Lines in Spenserian Stanza

 

The clock dings out the passages of time
In solemn strokes, clear, sure, and ponderous;
With every quarter a melodious chime
And then the hour proclaiming; telling us
That seconds, minutes, hours are under us
Quick fleeting back into the growing past,
And with its solemn ticking warning us
That strength is sapping from us, sapping fast,
And that the longest life itself can never last.

Each night into our waiting beds we creep
To close our eyes and weary bodies rest;
Each morn we wake afresh from out our sleep
And start again upon our daily quest;
As yesterday, to-day we give our best
In toil and labour so that we might live;
Again to-day we are with cares oppressed
That nothing in our reason can relieve,
That no assurance offer and no comfort give.

The seasons of the year their endless train
Drag in succession as the sun decrees,
We live through autumn, winter, spring again,
And hear the summer wind among the trees;
The birds monotonous sing melodies,
Repeat, repeat, repeat them till our ears
Are sated with their prescribed ecstasies,
And hardened are our hearts and dry our tears:
And life is days and weeks and months and years and years.

The clock will speak until its power is gone:
Then will its voice be silent; but time goes
On ever; when our feeble strength is done
We quit the ranks; but life without us flows
Unbroken, endlessly, and in its throes,
Our fellow-beings as cogs in a chain
Drawn past us with their griefs and woes!
Released, we sink for ever from that strain
Into a blissful state, from feeling and from pain.

1926