(9th October,1981 / Leeds)

If I In My Unnumbered Years Should Fail

If I in my unnumbered years should fail
To register of comprehend the breath
Of age that blows in gusts upon my back,
Then keep from me the secrets that remain
In death until such time as I recall
This moment that in ignorance I asked
That I might see the place where only moons
May walk their measured tread about the sky
That, tilting, forms an aisle around a sun
Whose endless oscillations dictate time.

Whose endless oscillations dictate time
To those who must obey Apollo’s slave;
While we that die below this falling night
Swollen with the weight of growing years,
Await the template our design must twin.
And yet, instinctive, still I know my cause,
Some slighted sense of destiny remains;
Shallow depths of a distance not remarked
Since naked swam the sun within its womb
And I was nothing more than idle thought.

And I was nothing more than idle thought
Between the observations of the eye
Above the earth than synchronises life.
This, they alone who knew the secrets know,
Yet will not under weight of words confess,
That the current climate’s steady progress
Deftly hides the primitive nerve of steel
Which I in my heroic light shall wield
To counter-balance that which would prevail
If I in my unnumbered years should fail.

by James Whitworth

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