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Kilmer, Joyce [1914]

From: “A new rubaiyat”
Translation Joyce Kilmer (Potter 340)
(Originally in “ New York Evening Times”, April, 1914.
Taken from Otautau Standard and Wallace Country Chronicle, vol. X, Issue 478, 21 July 1914)
Potter 340

Not for your sake alone the World was made,
Wise men and fools share with you Light and Shade.
You and the countless others come and go,
Pawns in a Game by the great Gamester played.

And wherefore, then, should you and I be sad,
Because to Life no minute we can add?
This is true Wisdom, as it seems to me:
Grief will not change the world—therefore be glad!

Lady of Love, the Sun begins to shine,
Greet him with Song-, and cheer your heart with Wine.
Those who are here To-day will not remain
And those who go send back nor Word nor Sign.

Not always shall this Convent wall us in,
So cease to preach that Wine and Love are sin.
How long shall old Creeds fetter us, or new?
When I am gone, then let the mad world spin!

The Tulips bathe in the soft Rain of May,
But for our bathing, founts of Wine shall play.
The Grass that flourishes so brightly green
Shall rise To-morrow from your sleeping Clay.

Last night I dashed the Wine Cup on a stone
(Oh, I was drunk; yes, very drunk, I own),
And as it fell, "I was like you," it said,
"And soon like me will, all your Flesh have grown."

A drop of water mingles with the Lake;
To the gray Earth there comes of Dust a flake.
What will it do, this mighty Life of ours?
Rise like a Bubble, like a Bubble break!

O, may he feel the lashes of Disgrace
Who lets Grief cast a shadow on his Face!
Drain the glad Cup and strike the merry Lute,
Before stern Fate destroys our Feastingplace.

Out of the Dark has been our journeying;
Life is a Bead —for no one knows what String!
It is the Darkness in Man's soul that speaks,
The light remains a secret, silent thing.

X. Rise, Master of Old Wisdom! From the Ground
See how that Boy kicks clouds of Dust around!
O, speak to him and say: "Tread gently, Boy,
The Brains of Sages form this earthern mound."

Not the Beginning nor the End we know
Of this blue Vault through which we come' and go.
No one has read the secret of the Stars
That tells the Whence and Whither of Life's flow.

So drink! for this blue sullen Vault of Sky
Hates our white Souls and waits to watch us die.
Rest on the soft green Grass, my Love, for soon
We shall be Dust together, you and I.

Earth, Fire, Air, Water, and the Seven Spheres,
These made your Flesh and fill your Soul with fears.
Drink Wine! I Ear, a thousand times, drink Wine!
Before your Dust drifts down the vanished Years.