At five and twenty, I awoke from sleep
To find all that I’d hoped for heaped as dust;
To which, eyes glazed, I set myself to sweep
Away a quarter century of rust;
And so thereby resign myself to weep,
Laugh-sob at all to which I put my trust.

In youth and its endurance put my trust,
In my fire-lust for life I fell asleep,
Not giving heed to how the mind-heart rust;
Postponed the brush’s steady sweep
Across the sheet in linseed blended dust —
Now gone the spirit-gifts once owned, I weep.

Preventable that loss for which I weep,
If I had stalwart in my aims put trust,
And not in idle truancy let sleep
My talents now inert, decayed in rust,
Corrosion streaking ’cross a clay-born sweep;
Horizon to horizon, unreapt dust.

But then all’s dust and will return to dust;
Dirt-, dust-, ash-streaked faces ever weep,
For fear destroys the act of final trust:
To know the after-sleep, must fall asleep;
To resinew the bones, let bones to rust;
Bleed out in foolish hope, the paschal-sweep.

A desperate theme across my soul does sweep:
Through lethargy, a straining of my dust,
To conquer the invading walls of sleep,
And call out: god to whom I doubting-trust;
Pray my leave-taking is well-worth a weep,
To stain a mourner’s eye with sorrow’s rust.

My promise, an immortal pen, is caked in rust,
The ink congealed cannot the paper sweep,
My notebook, acid-eaten, falls to dust,
My parts and powers evermore they weep,
For I betrayed their lastingness, their trust,
Too little-late, they languish now in sleep.

Envoi

May I yet ’rouse them from their staying rust,
Before my soul spreads out in its last sweep?
Alas, all’s dust. Sweep hope. Weep love. Sleep trust.

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