The End of the Play by William Makepeace Thackeray (18th July, 1811 – 24th December, 1863)
The play is done; the curtain drops,
Slow falling to the prompter’s bell:
A moment yet the actor stops,
And looks around, to say farewell.
It is an irksome word and task;
And, when he’s laughed and said his say,
He shows, as he removes the mask,
A face that’s anything but gay.
One word, ere yet the evening ends,
Let’s close it with a parting rhyme,
And pledge a hand to all young friends,
As fits the merry Christmas–time.
On life’s wide scene you, too, have parts,
That Fate ere long shall bid you play;
Good night! with honest gentle hearts
A kindly greeting go alway!
Good night!–I’d say, the griefs, the joys,
Just hinted in this mimic page,
The triumphs and defeats of boys,
Are but repeated in our age.
I’d say, your woes were not less keen,
Your hopes more vain than those of men;
Your pangs or pleasures of fifteen
At forty-five played o’er again.
I’d say, we suffer and we strive,
Not less or more as men than boys;
With grizzled beards at forty–five,
As erst at twelve in corduroys.
And if, in time of sacred youth,
We learned at home to love and pray,
Pray Heaven that early Love and Truth
May never wholly pass away.
And in the world, as in the school,
I’d say, how fate may change and shift;
The prize be sometimes with the fool,
The race not always to the swift.
The strong may yield, the good may fall,
The great man be a vulgar clown,
The knave be lifted over all,
The kind cast pitilessly down.
Who knows the inscrutable design?
Blessed be He who took and gave!
Why should your mother, Charles, not mine,
Be weeping at her darling’s grave?
We bow to Heaven that will’d it so,
That darkly rules the fate of all.
That sends the respite or the blow,
That’s free to give, or to recall.
This crowns his feast with wine and wit:
Who brought him to that mirth and state?
His betters, see, below him sit,
Or hunger hopeless at the gate.
Who bade the mud from Dives’ wheel
To spurn the rags of Lazarus?
Come, brother, in that dust we’ll kneel,
Confessing Heaven that ruled it thus.
So each shall mourn, in life’s advance,
Dear hopes, dear friends, untimely killed;
Shall grieve for many a forfeit chance,
And longing passion unfulfilled.
Amen! whatever fate be sent,
Pray God the heart may kindly glow,
Although the head with cares be bent,
And whitened with the winter snow.
Come wealth or want, come good or ill,
Let young and old accept their part,
And bow before the Awful Will,
And bear it with an honest heart,
Who misses or who wins the prize.
Go, lose or conquer as you can;
But if you fail, or if you rise,
Be each, pray God, a gentleman.
A gentleman, or old or young!
(Bear kindly with my humble lays);
The sacred chorus first was sung
Upon the first of Christmas Days:
The shepherds heard it overhead–
The joyful angels raised it then:
Glory to Heaven on high, it said,
And peace on earth to gentle men.
My song, save this, is little worth;
I lay the weary pen aside,
And wish you health, and love, and mirth,
As fits the solemn Christmas–tide.
As fits the holy Christmas birth,
Be this, good friends, our carol still–
Be peace on earth, be peace on earth,
To men of gentle will.
Wilfred Owen (March 18, 1893 – November 4, 1918)
Ever again to breathe pure happiness,
So happy that we gave away our toy?
We smiled at nothings, needing no caress?
Have we not laughed too often since with joy?
Have we not stolen too strange and sorrowful wrongs
For her hands’ pardoning? The sun may cleanse,
And time, and starlight. Life will sing great songs,
And gods will show us pleasures more than men’s.
Yet heaven looks smaller than the old doll’s–home,
No nestling place is left in bluebell bloom,
And the wide arms of trees have lost their scope.
The former happiness is unreturning:
Boys’ griefs are not so grievous as our yearning,
Boys have no sadness sadder than our hope.
Flowers by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (27th February, 1807 – 24th March, 1882):
Spake full well, in language quaint and olden,
One who dwelleth by the castled Rhine,
When he called the flowers, so blue and golden,
Stars, that in earth’s firmament do shine.
Stars they are, wherein we read our history,
As astrologers and seers of eld;
Yet not wrapped about with awful mystery,
Like the burning stars, which they beheld.
Wondrous truths, and manifold as wondrous,
God hath written in those stars above;
But not less in the bright flowerets under us
Stands the revelation of his love.
Bright and glorious is that revelation,
Written all over this great world of ours;
Making evident our own creation,
In these stars of earth, these golden flowers.
And the Poet, faithful and far-seeing,
Sees, alike in stars and flowers, a part
Of the self-same, universal being,
Which is throbbing in his brain and heart.
Gorgeous flowerets in the sunlight shining,
Blossoms flaunting in the eye of day,
Tremulous leaves, with soft and silver lining,
Buds that open only to decay;
Brilliant hopes, all woven in gorgeous tissues,
Flaunting gayly in the golden light;
Large desires, with most uncertain issues,
Tender wishes, blossoming at night!
Weary at the day’s proceedings, unfortunately like many other days, I sneaked out from the office floor for a quick breather. Day long I have been witness to and sometimes been a reluctant player to the many acts of the office drama and was in a positive danger of being choked to death of sheer frustration. Thinking of a brisk walk being the only remedy to release the pent up feelings and negative energies I ventured outside under the scorching sun of a summer afternoon of a typically tropical city of mine.
Lost completely in my thoughts I took one of the alleys at the right hand side and was walking slowly, summer sun pinching my skin now. I did not go far. All of sudden sounds of wings flapping made me look up subconsciously. Three palm trees were standing there, planted in a triangular configuration, forming a little shade between them, just behind the hedge that lined the lane. And a water-filled old earthen pot was lying there, perhaps abandoned and then completely forgotten by the gardener. The floral patterns of its glory days still somewhat discernible, the pot was filling itself from the water used for quenching the thirst of the garden. Little sparrows, at least four of them, were swooping down plunging into the water, splashing it outside the pot and in the process thoroughly enjoying the bath in the sweltering heat. Happily they were shaking the water off their feathers then again were taking a dip only to come out and repeat the process all over again, tweeting all the while in merry synchronicity. It seemed to be more of a well choreographed dance routine by the little birds whose joy and energy out of the performance was infectious enough to soothe the mind of this only observer.