The Last Word


The Last Word was featured in Harper's Magazine, November, 1903.
ERE I sit with eighty years
⁠Buried somewhere in my bones.
I can only see the world
⁠Move along in monotones.
All the peril of the sun
⁠And the laughter too are done.
(Hear the fools there in the passage
⁠Talk of larger vision won!)

Grace o' God, can they not see
⁠That the wisdom comes too late?
Oh, my heart is bitter full
⁠Of reflections delicate
On the beauty that is truth,
⁠On the art that saves, forsooth.
(Hear the fools there in the passage
⁠Mourn the blindness of their youth!)

I have lived the utter life,
⁠Loved the color, loved the word,
Let no light die unresisting,
⁠Let no far flute fail unheard.
All my days and nights are lit
⁠With a secret exquisite
(Hear the little voice come calling
⁠All the weary pain of it!)

Little voice that used to laugh,
⁠Little voice that used to sing—
Somewhere in those eighty years—
⁠Lullaby and love-longing.
I must listen, I must weep
⁠For the voice I could not keep.
(Oh, the silence of the darkness
⁠Where was breath of her asleep!)

Here they come to bring me praise,
⁠Here they come, there they go,
Lauding loud the work I've done,
⁠Books a-many in a row.
And they envy me and sigh,
⁠And they think those books are I.
Fools there, with some heart to love you,
⁠Pass the larger wisdom by!
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