The Last Adventure
You think yourselves
the adventurous ones, you young ones,
And us becalmed, torpid, our days uneventful,
Our blood stagnant, our minds'
But I, who was young and now am old, can tell you
There is no adventure like the adventure of age.
No speed that you, steel-nerved, hazard your lives for
Can touch our terrible speed. Faster and faster
poles flash by us, day's wires dip between them;
While we, breathless, dizzy, strung, precarious,
(To your eyes tranquil,
rug-wrapped) stare from the window.
No zest of pioneer in a new country,
No quiver and shock of beauty first-time-tasted
Can match our sharpened zest, our quickened perception,
Who, at each day's encounter with familiar beauty,
ourselves: "Is this for the last time?"
You are lusty in love, but you never held woman dearer
Than we hold life,
our slim one, our slender darling,
Our sweet, fleet, fickle and false tormentor,
Who stands always on tiptoe, poised
to leave us,
Bound to us only by the strength of our will to keep her.
And what's your joy of battle, your pride
To ours, forlorn defenders of a doomed salient,
Who stave off day by day, grotesquely accoutred
sword-umbrella, cuirass of antiphlogistine,
The trained, bloody and invincible troops of death?
- Jan Struther"
(Joyce Maxtone Graham, 1901-1953)