Friday, April 06, 2007

Poetry Friday 44

Having the tales of a Time Lord in my head means that I keep finding bits of poems about Time rising up out of the stores of poems that are also in my head, so this week I bring you three poems about Time by three different poets in different ages.

The Fleeting Years

Alas, Postumus, the fleeting years
fall away, nor will piety cause
delay to wrinkles or advancing
old age or indomitable death.
Even if you sacrificed a bull
each day you couldn't placate tearless
Pluto, who with his waves imprisons
thrice-strong Geryon and Tityos -
and those waves, my friend, must needs be crossed
by all who feed on the earth's bounty
whether we're kings or wretched peasants.
In vain we'll try to avoid cruel Mars
and the inconstant disturbances
that course the roaring Adriatic -
in vain through the autumn will we fear
the south wind, harmful to our bodies.
We must see the wandering, sluggish
Cocytos - the infamous offspring
of Danaus - the son of Aeolus:
Sisyphus damned to his ceaseless toil;
we must leave behind the earth and home
and pleasing spouse, and none of those trees
you tend will follow you, its short-lived
master, except the hated cypress.
A worthier heir will drink the wine
you guard now with a hundred keys: he'll
drench the pavement with your best - more fine
than that on which the highest priests do feast.

- Horace

On Time

Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy Plummets pace;
And glut thy self with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more then what is false and vain,
And meerly mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.
For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb'd,
And last of all, thy greedy self consum'd,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss;
And Joy shall overtake us as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With Truth, and Peace, and Love shall ever shine
About the supreme Throne
Of him, t' whose happy-making sight alone,
When once our heav'nly-guided soul shall clime,
Then all this Earthy grosnes quit,
Attir'd with Stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee O Time.

- John Milton

I Could Give All To Time

To Time it never seems that he is brave
To set himself against the peaks of snow
To lay them level with the running wave,
Nor is he overjoyed when they lie low,
But only grave, contemplative and grave.
What now is inland shall be ocean isle,
Then eddies playing round a sunken reef
Like the curl at the corner of a smile;
And I could share Time's lack of joy or grief
At such a planetary change of style.
I could give all to Time except - except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept.

- Robert Frost

* * * * * *

(I finished the third of my Doctor Who novellas on Wednesday night and I'm about to spend most of the long Easter weekend in starting to write the fourth one, the idea for which unfolded in my head nearly two weeks ago. The idea's been buzzing around my head ever since, whilst I finished the third one, so it's going to be a relief to get it out of my head and onto paper !)


Kelly said...

Gosh! You're one writing demon these days, Michele!!

Michele said...

Demon huh ? Let's see: forked tail - no; horns - no; scary red eyes - no; screaming sinners in a scorchingly hot pit - no...

Your analogy doesn't seem to tick any boxes, Kelly ! *grins*

However, it's true the writing bug has got me firmly in its grip. I wrote a 4500+ word chapter and typed it up in the space of 9 hours today - but then this fourth story has been bubbling in my head for nearly two weeks, so it's less a case of inventing stuff than of transcribing it !

Nancy said...


I like this Frost poem, and I'm surprised that I've never read it before!

Michele said...

Then my work here is done, Nancy... *grins*

Michele said...

Who me ?!

(Sorry, sorry... Just couldn't stop myself... !)

Anonymous said...

Love those choices, Michele. As always, you've selected good stuff. I hadn't seen that Horace poem before, but that line "the fleeting years fall away" has been eating at me since yesterday -- I believe I feel a poem coming on.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Michele said...

KellyF, you're more than welcome ! I know *exactly* what you mean about lines of poetry sticking in your head and bugging you incessantly...