Debits and Credits, by Rudyard Kipling

To the Companions

Horace, Ode 17, Bk. V.

HOW comes it that, at even-tide.
 When level beams should show most truth.
Man, failing, takes unfailing pride
 In memories of his frolic youth?
Venus and Liber fill their hour;
 The games engage, the law-courts prove;
Till hardened life breeds love of power
 Or Avarice, Age’s final love.
Yet at the end, these comfort not —
 Nor any triumph Fate decrees —
Compared with glorious, unforgot —
 ten innocent enormities
Of frontless days before the beard.
 When, instant on the casual jest.
The God Himself of Mirth appeared
 And snatched us to His heaving breast.
And we — not caring who He was
 But certain He would come again —
Accepted all He brought to pass
 As Gods accept the lives of men . . .
Then He withdrew from sight and speech.
 Nor left a shrine. How comes it now.
While Charon’s keel grates on the beach.
 He calls so clear: ‘Rememberest thou?’?

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38