Rag-and-bone

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress.
                                W B Yeats

Rag-and-bone

Here where the robin
      the blackbird
and the sparrow once sang
      dappled seaborne clouds
hasten across the sky
      bringing rain and redemption

In these same life-worn streets
      the cry of rag-and-bone
has long ago faded :
      and yet you ask
                  where is beauty
                  where is youth
                  where is Alice
with her long blond hair ?

He who said
      she shall have roses
ribbons and rings
      where is he ?

When was it
      that crabbed age crept in
to take the upper-hand ?
      When was it
that he first cursed confusion
       and his faltering limbs ?

Enough of your sad metaphysics
      my dust has yet to settle
and I will do battle until
      my day is done
There is no repose
      that I would welcome
nor will I accept
      a cooler shade of love :
the true constellations
      are here below
in her entreating eyes
      in her redemptive smile
in the warmth of her embrace
      and I will not be denied

John Lyons