Life is a flame that flickers in the wind,
A bird that crouches in the fowler’s net—
Nor may between her flutterings forget
That hour the dreams of youth were unconfined.
There was a time when I was fain to guess
The riddles of our life, when I would soar
Against the cruel secrets of the door,
So that I fell to deeper loneliness.
One is behind the draperies of life,
One who will tear these tanglements away—
No dark assassin, for the dawn of day
Leaps out, as leapeth laughter, from the knife.
If you will do some deed before you die,
Remember not this caravan of death,
But have belief that every little breath
Will stay with you for an eternity.
Astrologers!—give ear to what they say!
“The stars be words; they float on heaven’s breath
And faithfully reveal the days of death,
And surely will reveal that longer day.”
I shook the trees of knowledge. Ah! the fruit
Was fair upon the bleakness of the soil.
I filled a hundred vessels with my spoil,
And then I rested from the grand pursuit.
Alas! I took me servants: I was proud
Of prose and of the neat, the cunning rhyme,
But all their inclination was the crime
Of scattering my treasure to the crowd.
And yet—and yet this very seed I throw
May rise aloft, a brother of the bird,
Uncaring if his melodies are heard—
Or shall I not hear anything below?
The glazier out of sounding Erzerum,
Frequented us and softly would conspire
Upon our broken glass with blue-red fire,
As one might lift a pale thing from the tomb.
He was the glazier out of Erzerum,
Whose wizardry would make the children cry—
There will be no such wizardry when I
Am broken by the chariot-wheels of Doom.
The chariot-wheels of Doom! Now, hear them roll
Across the desert and the noisy mart,
Across the silent places of your heart—
Smile on the driver you will not cajole.
I never look upon the placid plain
But I must think of those who lived before
And gave their quantities of sweat and gore,
And went and will not travel back again.