Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Ode on Advancing Age
By Richard Watson Dixon (1833–1900)
 
THOU goest more and more
To the silent things: thy hair is hoar,
Emptier thy weary face: like to the shore
Far-ruined, and the desolate billow white,
That recedes and leaves it waif-wrinkled, gap-rocked, weak.        5
The shore and the billow white
Groan, they cry and rest not: they would speak,
And call the eternal Night
To cease them for ever, bidding new things issue
From her cold tissue:        10
Night, that is ever young, nor knows decay,
Though older by eternity than they.
 
Go down upon the shore.
The breakers dash, the smitten spray drops to the roar;
The spit upsprings, and drops again,        15
Where’er the white waves clash in the main.
Their sound is but one: ’tis the cry
That has risen from of old to the sky,
’Tis their silence!
          Go now from the shore        20
Far-ruined: the grey shingly floor
To thy crashing step answers, the doteril cries,
And on dipping wing flies:
’Tis their silence!
          And thou, oh thou,        25
To that wild silence sinkest now.
No more remains to thee than the cry of silence, the cry
Of the waves, of the shore, of the bird to the sky.
Thy bald eyes neath as bald a brow
Ask but what Nature gives        30
To the inarticulate cries
Of the waves, of the shore, of the bird.
Earth in earth thou art being interred:
No longer in thee lives
The lordly essence which was unlike all,        35
That was thy flower of soul the imperial
Glory that separated thee
From all others that might be.
 
Thy dog hath died before.
Didst thou not mark him? did he not neglect        40
What roused his rapture once, but still loved thee?
Till, weaker grown, was he not fain reject
Thy pitying hand, thy meat and drink,
For all thou couldst implore?
Then, at the last, how mournfully        45
Did not his eyelids sink
With wearied sighs?
He sought at last that never-moving night
Which is the same in darkness as in light,
The closing of the eyes.        50
 
So, Age, thou dealest us
To the elements: but no! Resume thy pride,
O man, that musest thus.
Be to the end what thou hast been before:
The ancient joy shall wrap thee still—the tide        55
Return upon the shore.
 
 
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