Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Owen

Everything but tech support.
}

1550, 11 Apr 21

Three Score and Ten

Here’s a neat poem by diplomat and Milwaukean George F. Kennan called “Three Score and Ten”:

When the step becomes slow, and the wit becomes slower,
And memory fails, and the hearing declines;
When skies become clouded, and clouds become lower,
And you find yourself talking poetical lines;

 

When the path that you tread becomes steeper and darker;
And the question seems no longer whether, but when –
Then, my friend, you should look for the biblical marker,
The sign by the road that reads: Three Score and Ten;

 

At this point you’ll observe, if you care to look closely,
You’re no longer alone on the highway of life;
For there trudges behind you, and glowers morosely,
A bearded old man with a curious knife;

 

At first you defy this absurd apparition
(For it’s old Father Time, with his glass and his scythe);
You swear you were never in better condition –
The body more jaunty, the spirit more blythe;

 

And you laugh in his face, and you tell the old joker;
“You must be mistaken; I’m feeling just fine,”
But the wretched old scarecrow just picks up his poker
And gives you a jab and says: “Get back in line”;

 

So you swallow your pride, and you march with your brothers;
You do all the things you’re instructed to do;
But you’re sure this compulsion, just right for the others,
Could not have been really intended for you;

 

And you turn to the thought of your erstwhile successes –
How brilliant, how charming, how worthy of fame;
‘Til a small voice protests and the conscience confesses
What an ass you once were and how empty the claim;

 

Then the ghosts of the past find you out in your sadness,
And gather about, and point fingers of shame –
The ghosts of stupidities spawned by your madness –
The ghosts of injustices done in your name;

 

And you grieve with remorse for the sins you’ve committed:
The fingers that roamed and the tongue that betrayed;
But you grieve even more for the ones you omitted:
The nectar untasted, the record unplayed.

 

But the cut most unkind, and the cruelest teacher,
Is the feeling you have when, as sometimes occurs,
The wandering eye of some heavenly creature
Encounters your own, and your own catches hers;

 

And you conjure up dreams too delightful to mention,
And you primp and you pose, ’til it’s suddenly seen
That the actual object of all her attention –
This burning, voluptuous female attention –
Is a fellow behind you who’s all of nineteen.

 

So you swallow your pride, and you scurry for cover
In the solaces characteristic of age:
You tell the same anecdotes over and over,
Forget the same names, and reread the same page;

 

And at length you concede, though with dim satisfaction,
That it’s not on yourself that your peace now depends –
That for this you must look to a different reaction:
To the weary indulgence of children and friends.

 

Yet, if given the chance to retread, as you’ve known it,
The ladder of life – to begin at the spot
Where the story picked up, and before you had blown it
Would you take it, dear friends?
I suspect you would not;

 

So let us take heart; we are none of us friendless;
And fill up your glasses, and raise them again
To the chance that an interval, seemingly endless,

Will ensure
Before you
Become Three Score and Ten

}

1550, 11 April 2021

1 Comment

  1. Mar

    “Yet, if given the chance to retread, as you’ve known it,
    The ladder of life – to begin at the spot
    Where the story picked up, and before you had blown it
    Would you take it, dear friends?
    I suspect you would not;”
    Yeah, I would. I would take it.

Submit a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest