TEARS AT EVENTIDE
Sunt lacrimae rerum et Mentem mortalia tangunt - Vergil.
When sunset fades and silence lulls
The tear-torn spirit seeking rest,
The tears he sheds at eventide
Are not self-pity’s sobbing strains,
Are but the simple tears of things
That pierce the universal heart,
Forbidding, fateful, ferine, fanged,
Contrition’s mordant agonies
That, leaping from the accusing page,
Indict the pain-racked parting soul,
Ravish the peace that years have earned,
Outrage his slumbers, cloud his stars,
Make every dawn a wilderness.
How often in the years that were
We’ve known heaven’s door lie open wide
And, still unentered, close again;
Remorse’s anguish, all the pity
Never felt, good counsel scorned,
The tomb that cried stiletto-sharp:
“Mine is the heart you stabbed, my friend”,
Promise, that could have saved a soul,
Unkept, the traitorous lapse of trust:
SELF, Grown so gross it closed perforce
All ways to service. How we mourn
The festering, self-inflicted wounds
Of pride, envy, ingratitude,
Blurred memories of averted sight
From many a path of righteousness
Full charted at a mother’s knee,
Unseen betimes by eyes long since
Blinded by custom’s garish glare,
Seduced by life’s own tinselled ways,
Inured to choose the broad highway
Downhill to self-esteem!
Then, deepest cut of all; each deed,
Once done, each word pronounced, alas,
For all those bitter, rueful tears,
Can never be undone, unsaid.
Forbear, O Immortality!
And grave, keep shut till all my tears
Are spent. Then only, make my bed
- And I shall sleep.