Vigil

That is no country for old men.
W.B.Yeats

Where do old men go when shades grow long
and dim, and flick’ring light cast by the fire
lights the golden chambers of the young,
and joy’s a dance to which they but aspire,
and recollect, if only in a song,
how once they moved in love’s impassioned gyre?
Something in them knows that they will find
love’s interchange more honest now than kind.

Why do old men sit beside the door
when calls for revolution fill the night
and cross-examine passion’s howl before
the howl becomes the reason for the fight,
when justice seems a thing not half so pure
as Pilate’s bowl of water in their sight?
Something in them knows the lie is most
persistent in the truths of which we boast.

Why do old men turn away from pyres
where candles, freshly lit, have drawn their blaze
and follow at a distance while the choir
in slow procession marches to the nave
singing alleluias ‘ere the hour
when resurrection liberates the grave?
Something in them knows, deep in the bone,
‘tis not yet time to roll away the stone.

Why do old men stare up to the hills
whence no help seems forthcoming for their pain
to take away the fever and the chill,
result of standing too long in the rain
in search of Truth, that certain tilt of will,
the grace of those who sleep, or are insane?
Sometimes patience proves the better friend,
enduring and resilient to the end.

© 2017 Paul Hooker