Poems on Time
John Milton: "On Time"
Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race;
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more then what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.
For when, as each thing bad thou hast entomb'd
And last of all thy greedy self consumed,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss,
With an individual kiss;
And Joy shall overtake us, as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good,
And perfectly divine,
With truth, and peace, and love, shall ever shine,
About the supreme throne
Of Him, to whose happy-making sight, alone,
When once our heavenly-guided soul shall climb,
Then all this earthly grossness quit,
Attired with stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O Time!
John Ashbery: "The Task"
About the time the sun begins to cut laterally across
The western hemisphere with its shadows, its carnival echoes
The fugitive lands crowd under separate names.
It is the blackness that succeeds gaiety, and Everyman must depart
Out there into stranded night, for his destiny
Is to remain unfruitful out of the lightness
That passing time evokes. It was only
Cloud-castles, adept to seize the past
And possess it, through hurting. And the way is clear
Now for linear acting into that time
In whose corrosive mass he first discovered how to breathe.
Eugenio Montale: "Xenia"
We had studied for the afterlife
a sign of recognition, a whistle.
I'm trying to modulate it in the hope
that all of us are already dead without knowing it.
Omar Khayyam: "Rubayat XL"
One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,
One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste.
The Stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing. Oh, make haste!
Kalidasa: "Salutation of the Dawn"
Yesterday is but a dream,
Tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Fernando Pessoa: "Sonnet XXXI"
I am older than Nature and her Time
By all the timeless age of Consciousness,
And my adult oblivion of the clime
Where I was born makes me not countryless.
Ay, and dim through my daylight thoughts escape
Yearnings for that land where my childhood dreamed,
Which I cannot recall in colour or shape
But haunts my hours like something that hath gleamed
And yet is not as light remembered,
Nor to the left or to the right conceived;
And all round me tastes as if life were dead
And the world made but to be disbelieved.
Thus I my hope on unknown truth lay; yet
How but by hope do I the unknown truth get?
Thomas Eliot: "Quartet No. 1: Burnt Norton"
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.
Back to the Interdisciplinary Tour