We Who Are Young Are Old
‘We who are young are old. It is the oldest cry.
Age sours before youth’s tasted in the mouth
And any sweetness that it has
Is sucked away.’
We who are still young are old. It is a dead cry,
The squeal of the damned out of the old pit.
We have grown weak before we could grow strong,
For us there is no shooting and no riding,
The Western man has lost one lung
And cannot mount a clotheshorse without bleeding.
Until the whisper of the last trump louden
We shall play Chopin in our summer garden,
With half-averted heads, as if to listen,
Play Patience in the parlour after dark.
For us there is no riding and no shooting,
No frosty gallops through the winter park.
We who are young sit holding yellow hands.
No faith to fix the teeth on carries
Men old before their time into dark valleys
Where death lies dead asleep, one bright eye open,
No faith to sharpen the old wits leaves us
Lost in the shades, no course, no use
To fight through the invisible weeds,
No faith to follow is the world’s curse
That falls on chaos.
There is but one message for the earth,
Young men with fallen chests and old men’s breath,
Women with cancer at their sides
And cancerous speaking dripping from their mouths,
And lovers turning on the gas,
Ex-soldiers with horrors for a face,
A pig’s snout for a nose,
The lost in doubt, the nearly mad, the young
Who, undeserving, have suffered the earth’s wrong,
The living dead left over from the war,
The living after, the filled with fear,
The caught in the cage, the broken winged,
The flying loose, albino eyed, wing singed,
The white, the black, the yellow and mulatto
From Harlem, Bedlam, Babel, and the Ghetto,
The Picadilly men, the back street drunks,
The grafters of cat’s head on chickens’ trunks
The whole, the crippled, the weak and strong,
The Western man with one lung gone—
Faith fixed beyond the spinning stars,
Fixed faith, believing and worshipping together
In god or gods, Christ or his father,
Mary, virgin, or any other.
Faith. Faith. Firm faith in many or one,
Faith fixed like a star beyond the stars,
And the skysigns and the night lights,
And the shores of the last sun.
We who are young are old, and unbelieving,
Sit at our hearths from morning until evening,
Warming dry hands and listening to the wind.
We have no faith to set between our teeth.
Believe, believe and be saved, we cry, who have no faith.