THE WINGS OF PLASTER ANGELS
The plaster angels in the holy night Poise on their tinsel wings above the dolls And new lead soldiers.
Though we think of bright Fierce swords as emblems for a cause,
No need to think when time withdraws The end of year, the end of age—the same;
Age follows age, and each age is the same.
Think an impassioned poet, tired with age,
Dies lonely now and hears Atlantis cough—
Sick ocean to a proud, towered man whose rage
For cause in youth could make him want
The gutter for baptismal font.
The font is dry, the chancel fallen in;
But time has priests to shrive him for his sin.
A fool then, young in pain but old in hate,
Dreaming brave cause and addled in the head,
Once having swallowed cause’s gudgeon-bait,
His young Romantic teeth would grind
On grief as bitter as green rind
After the heart of melons in the sun;
Now lonely dies the impassioned simpleton.
Now in our youth (we young men, wise past hate) For no cause have we fought (no need for cause);
We have at last no trust to violate.
Reside the fire, toward end of year,
The young men watch a swarming air;
Thoughts dart like bees to sting them, and in dread The young men jam their hats upon their head.
But bees are golden in the air; and late Or soon, though men are vigilant in fear,
Around their heads the bees will congregate.
For under hats, toward end of year,
The heads of nameless men still bear This swarm of stinging bees for diadem;
And wings of plaster angels cover them.