Ask me not for the beauty of the world,
Or the hour: for I have seen it not.
This twelvemonth, the dry pebbles in my hand
Have been in the sewing and its harvest:
Such is the grain I gathered that
My tongue is black from cursing.
You see a stranger on this day, do you not?
When once I stood as supple and supine
As a young birch, as you: so riled with winds,
Spurred to obedience and firm,
Whereas of late my bark has been thaw-bitten
And aches. My spine, ground, bitter, peppercorn;
You laugh! an old man, in his dirty manner
Begging like Death, holding his plastic bag
So jealously against this jealous land.
But these hands are broken tools, their handles cracked:
Their brass, coarse with the shove of cut, turned earth;
Nails, at as if by vermin, cruelly gnawed;
And mine eyes are thirsty wells for water. So request
Not of me, the time in this world, my lad,
For I’m at pains enough to see it yet.