“What Is Time?”
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I ASKED an aged man, with whitish-grey from aging
> Used in "What Is Time?," #hoary. [G] [Photo] hairs,
Wrinkled and curved with worldly cares:
“Time is the warp of life,” said he; “O tell
The young, the fair, the gay, to weave it well!”
I asked the ancient, venerable dead,
Sages who wrote, and warriors who bled:
From the cold grave a hollow murmur flowed,
“Time sowed the seed we reap in this abode!”
I asked a dying sinner, ere the tide
Of life had left his veins : “Time !” he replied;
“I’ve lost it! ah, the treasure!” and he died.
I asked the golden sun and silver spheres,
Those bright chronometers of days and years:
They answered, “Time is but a meteor glare,”
And bade me for eternity prepare.
I asked the Seasons, in their annual round,
Which beautify or desolate the ground;
And they replied (no oracle more wise)
” ‘Tis Folly’s blank, and Wisdom’s highest prize!”
I asked a spirit lost—but O the shriek
That pierced my soul! I shudder while I speak.
It cried, “A particle! a speck! a mite
Of endless years, duration infinite!”
Of things inanimate my dial I
Consulted, and it made me this reply:
“Time is the season fair of living well,
The path of glory or the path of hell.”
I asked my Bible, and methinks it said,
“Time is the present hour, the past has fled;
Live! live to-day ! to-morrow never yet
On any human being rose or set.”
I asked old Father Time himself at last;
But in a moment he flew swiftly past:
His chariot was a cloud, the viewless wind
His noiseless steeds, which left no trace behind.
I asked the mighty angel who shall stand
One foot on sea and one on solid land:
“Mortal!” he cried, “the mystery now is o’er;
Time was, Time is, but Time shall be no more!”
World-Strangeness by William Watson. (1955). In E. Markham (Ed.), Anthology of the World’s Best Poems (Memorial Ed., Vol. V, p. 2504). New York: Wm.H. Wise & Co. Co.
Duluth, GA, US
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