Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
By Allen Upward
OLD loves, old griefs, the burthen of old songs
That Time, who changes all things, cannot change:
Eternal themes! Ah, who shall dare to join
The sad procession of the kings of song—
Irrevocable names, that sucked the dregs        5
Of sorrow from the broken honeycomb
Of fellowship?—or brush the tears that hang
Bright as ungathered dewdrops on a briar?
Death hallows all; but who will bear with me
To breathe a more heartrending lamentation,        10
To mourn the memory of a love divided
By life, not death, a friend not dead but changed?
  Not dead—but what is death? Because I hoard
Immortal love, that withers not, but keeps
Full virtue like some rare medicament        15
Hoarded for ages in a crystal jar
By wonder-working gnomes; that only waits
The sound of that lost voice, familiar still,
Or sight of face or touch of hand, to bring
Life, like the dawn whose gentle theft unties        20
The girdle of the petal-folded flowers,
And ravishes their scent before they wake:
My love is like a fountain frozen o’er,
But no returning sun will ever break
The seal of that forbidden spring; no foot        25
Invade the weed-grown pathway; never kiss
Wake the enchanted beauty of the wood,
And bid the wheels of time revolve again.
Though one should walk the ways of life, and wear
The sweet remembered name, yet he is not        30
My playmate; no, the boy whom I have loved
Died long ago; the man is nothing but
His aging sepulchre.
                And I, even I,
Know in my deepest heart that I am not        35
The boy who loved him; and I would I were,
With a most bitter longing which there are
No creeds to comfort. Do we madly feign
The soul to be immortal? Fools!—it is not
Even mortal, does not last the little space        40
The body does, but alters visibly,
And dies a million times ’twixt breath and breath.
  Forever and forever and forever
Outgrown and left behind and cast away
The joy that was the blossom of the soul,        45
And hours that were the butterflies of time.
What though Elysian fields be white with light,
Crowded with glorious forms, and freed from fear
Or spoil or shock, how shall it profit me
Aged with sad hours, to pass to them and meet        50
Him as he is, removed and fallen and marred?
Hath any God the power to give me back
My boyhood; to undo this growth of years,
In which I lose the sense of what I was,
And take a different nature? We, self-wrapped,        55
Conjure with dreams of immortality,
And wit not that the spirit is yet more frail
Than that which holds it. Constant is it in nothing
But change; the transmigration of the soul
Goes on from hour to hour, it does not wait        60
The dissolution of our frame, but is
The law of life, fulfilled in everywise,
And we who fear destruction perish ever.
  The soul—that vaulting speck, that busy flame,
That climbing passion-flower, that god, that atom—        65
It is the seeding-point of forces fed
By earth and air and all we hear and see
And handle. We take life and give it, but
We may not keep it. Sooner might we hope
To clutch the trickling moments in our palm,        70
Take hold of the eternal pendulum,
And bid the sun of our desire to stand.
  Who can take comfort to foresee himself
On unknown stages playing other parts?
It is but treading through a wider maze,        75
A wearier cycle. Would the butterfly
Feel lesser anguish, as it fell, to know
Some egg in which it wrapped the spark of life
Was ripening in the dark, some day to break
Its natal bonds and walk the earth enrobed        80
With green and golden fur? Or is it worth
The caterpillar’s knowing, as it shrinks
Within the coffin it has built, and dies
Between the straightening walls, that they shall crack
In ruin days or weeks or ages hence,        85
And issuing from the dust a thing of light—
Not it—shall drink the morning air and wave
Its crimson banners in the sun?
                    A life
Of endless deaths, an immortality        90
Of partings, is it worth being gifted with?
Such is the life of nations; they last on
In plant-like continuity, while the men
Who make them fall like leaves and are renewed.
We call ourselves the English people now,        95
But they who fought till sundown on that hill
In Sussex all those hundred years ago,
And died where they had fought, and never knew
The end of it, what had they happier been
To hear of the great Charter, and the deeds        100
Of that famed Parliament that drew the sword
Meteor-like forth in shuddering Europe’s gaze,
And spilt the blood of kings?
                Let no man say
Life may yield other loves; because we loved        105
At that age when to love is to be lost
In them we love, and not with narrow eyes
To purse up faults and merits. In that age
We loved although we knew not how to love,
Before the buds of sense had learnt to give        110
Their sweetness up in fiery-fatal blooms
And fruit forbidden. Childhood treads the heights
Whither nor friends nor loves of later days
Can reach, when friends are but acquaintances,
And love’s clear stream is muddied o’er with lust.        115
  Forever and forever and forever
Gone are the days and nights of fairyland;
Days that were cups of summer, sacred nights
Too sweet for slumber, hours like tears, on which
The moonbeams peeped between the shuttered blinds        120
Like children at a feast they cannot share.
(O memories! Oh, to steal from paradise
One more such moment, and then be no more I!)
Those years and loves are gone, not to come back
Till man can turn the wheels of life, and draw        125
Creation in the thoroughfares of time.

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