An Ancient Vase
As I look on this ancient vase,
Through its potter's eyes I start to gaze.
Its molding in his hands I feel,
And hear the whirring of his wheel.
I ask, just why this shape and height?
Why this color, to be honored by what light?
As with a person, was it born for joy and beauty,
Or to simply serve some daily duty?
Who then bought it, and placed it where,
To receive beloved or less anxious care?
Where lived it through the storms of time,
To stand before these awe-filled eyes of mine?
Dwelled it in the palace of a line of kings
For the pleasure that such beauty brings?
Or was it a peasant family's cherished thing,
To which through famine they'd still cling?
How passed it from one household to another?
The gift to a bride from her indulgent mother?
Was it bought or bartered, or enough desired
To be by theft or as a bribe acquired?
Stood it empty on a decorative shelf
Admired for its beauty, just by itself?
Or was it filled with many a fragrant flower,
To add the charm of nature to a lady's bower?
Did it pass through life all on its own,
Or become the much-prized cornerstone
Of a group of pieces by that potter's hand
Which stayed long together as a band?
Where will it travel, and touch upon what shore?
Until at last, in fragments on some cruel floor,
Beyond man's and muse's power to restore,
Its long life's ended, it soul has fled for evermore.