Though I am young, with beard ungreyed
Yet I am wise,
For I have lived a thousand lives.
I have lived true and strong
Unswayed by the winds of deceit
Returned honor with honor
And betrayal with ruth and vengeance.
I have lived false and sly
Forsworn my friends and allegiance
Grown fat on the blood of the fools
Who trusted me.
I have grown old and died
Alone, and forsaken
Surrounded by my kin and loved ones
I have been bold in love, and shy
Repulsed now, seduced another time
Kept faith for a lifetime
Slept with whoever I choose
Discovered that whichever path you take
At the end of that path you lose.
I have fathered many children
Mothered them too
Some of them the Gods
And borne them in blood and pain
Cut the cord and hushed their first cry
Nursed them at my breasts
Spitted them on my red sword
Watched them piled in pits and burned.
Have none of them learned?
My son turns the furnace on
Splendid in his black helmet
To burn the cold and broken body of
I have watched my children grow old
Foolish and wise
While I have died young
Died old and childless
Died in my daughter's arms
And buried a daughter.
I, too, have known the rage
Of a babe
Whose life, unrequited
Ended in the hateful night.
I have beguiled the King a thousand times
With tales of brave Ulysses.
I have finally washed my guilty hands
And put away the sword of my vengeance
To live in harmony and peace
Though a monster am I.
I have seen the error in my ways
Repented in leisure
Regretted a still-borne past
And all the chances missed to sin.
For I have seen the world destroyed in strange ways
Destroyed it myself, in a fit of passion
And watched in wonder as new worlds
Were hurled like dice, or bubbles
From my fingertips.
I have been God
Odin walking with my ravens and patch
Krishna seeking to kill my cousins
And Satan, too.
Lucifer am I, fallen angel
Promethean in my pride, which abides the rending
That from all of the ending a new thing is born.
I have walked the golden road
Sailed the seas
Fought in the trenches
Cast a spell and been bewitched
And once, long ago
Weaved a web to save some pig
Which started my feet on the path
I am wise,
Full of the borrowed wisdom of ten thousand,
A hundred thousand lives
Each seen through the filter of their brightest moments.
The shared experience of the generations is at my command
Leading me, though blind I be, a poet
Through the empty deserts and hollow hills
The wasted spaces of the living land.
From these myriad flames I have learned
That power and money, false immortality
Are fruitless goals
Burned by the aims themselves
Consumed to ash and scattered in the winds of time.
Long life is illusion, and greed is no end.
We take from our life what we bring
But since that forever is beyond our grasp
Books are the next best thing.
To Patrick, William, Sam
and all the children of the world...