Dream Song 224: Lonely In His Great Age

Eighty

Lonely in his great age, Henry's old friend
leaned on his burning cane while hís old friend
was hymnéd out of living.
The Abbey rang with sound. Pound white as snow
bowed to them with his thoughts—it's hard to know them though
for the old man sang no word.

Dry, ripe with pain, busy with loss, let's guess.
Gone. Gone them wine-meetings, gone green grasses
of the picnics of rising youth.
Gone all slowly. Stately, not as the tongue
worries the loose tooth, wits as strong as young,
only the albino body failing.

Where the smother clusters pinpoint insights clear.
The tennis is over. The last words are here?
What, in the world, will they be?
White is the hue of death & victory,
all the old generosities dismissed,
while the white years insist.

by John Berryman

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