You whom I never loved,
You I shall never touch
Live in my mind as if you proved
A thesis about other such.
Which is, that firm and tender flesh
Is medicine for an aging man,
As if one body could refresh
Another as it never can.
The crook of age, the spring of youth,
Are equally the work of time;
What is in common is the truth
That age is age and prime is prime
And that both quickly slip away
To other hours, then none at all:
Whatever words the ghosts may say
It is the bodies take the fall.
Pretence may entertain the old,
The young may answer with a lie,
But neither old nor young can hold
The same illusion till they die.
I look on you, you look on me;
For both, to speak no word is best.
I contemplate your lovely youth;
You cannot bear to think the rest.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 8 Number 3, on page 48
Copyright © 2017 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com