How can we repair the ravages of time?
Our hands have lost their youthful vigor
Our strength is gone, wasted in a way
That shames the soul of one once strong
And all the valor ever spent
Does not suffice to seal the rent
In the seas and living soil
Where the humblest worm once fed
On the remnants of the dead.
Now the worm must feed on fire and ash
And dust is all that remains to him.
The pyre we built has consumed us all
Deadly rains now wash the ghat
Leaving only bones to gnaw
Skeletons of steel crumble and decay
The works of man all pass away.
Who shall press the withered grapes
To make new wine, when old wine
Runs from broken bottles to bloody the dust
And the vintner lies slain by the wind?
Who will broach the keg and lift October glass
When forgotten September saw the barley lost
And the desert no longer remembers the fields
Where grain once waved its tassled head?
The dead do not drink on the barren plain
But only the dead remain.
Who shall lift their smiling eyes
To babies dandled from loving hands
And smother cries with kisses
When the breeze that scuttles
Through the ruins of living rooms
Is all that moves in all the lands?
Who will record the glory of our age
When the weathered sage has lost his sight
The poet has lost his pen
And endless pages turn unread
In the timeless wind
Blank verse in the cruelest sense
To tell the story of empty night
Encompassing the hopeless dawn,
And who shall sing when Man is gone?
Who shall mourn his passing?
Who shall chant his funeral dirge;
Who shall lay him in the living earth
When all the earth lies dead?
Who shall sing when Man is gone.
How can we repair the evil of our way
When that bright flash comes
On that evil day
And all that is living
Must soon pass away
In an instant of searing time
Or the more protracted flight
As hair and flesh depart in fevered night
And the grimy skies are grey
With the deadly dust and ash
Raised by the rush of our passage?
The sun shall burn down merciless
Sear the skin and turn the trees
No longer green the leaves with light
Or give its kiss of life to grasses
When the air cannot bar the way
To its burning deadly ray.
Who will sing when Man is gone.
If not the worms then perhaps the germs.