Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, YOUTH IMPERTURBABLE, by CONRAD AIKEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

YOUTH IMPERTURBABLE, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Let me not shrink at sight of death
Last Line: O I have much to laugh at yet!
Subject(s): Youth

LET me not shrink at sight of death,
Nor waste in grief an idle breath. . .
You whom I loved are one with clay,
The brightness in your eyes is gone,
I shall not meet your face to-day;
Your day is done, while mine goes on. . .
Why pity you? You had your fling;
You had your chance to dance and sing, --
To love, to hate, to kiss, to kill,
To laugh and cry and drink your fill:
Now it is ended: so comes end
To every lover, every friend;
The lips turn white, the warm eyes glaze,
The music-box no longer plays,
And so we hide you under earth
And laugh to sun our wonted mirth. . .
Let me not shrink at sight of death,
Nor waste in grief an idle breath. . .

This buried something -- is it you?
Is this decay the man I knew?
You, whose hand was warm in mine,
Whose eyes I saw with music shine,
Who laughed with me and walked with me,
And in your grave way scolded me? --
Well, and so fares it with us all, --
When autumn comes the leaf must fall,
Nor shall I dusk one single day
By mourning for what now is clay.
One of my joys is haply dead,
One song is sung, one word is said,
One laughter dies and leaves behind
Only an echo in my mind. . .
Let me not shrink: I will be stern.
For better or worse you had your turn.
Grief for the dead is foolish grief,
A childish thing, a selfish thing, --
One voice cannot for always sing, --
Even for us is pleasure brief; --
Nor can our tears and temper stay
The hand that snatches joy away.
For you, your golden sun has set,
But I have much to laugh at yet.

Let me not shrink at sight of death
Nor waste in grief an idle breath. . .
Life is a dance; -- O dance it then,
You blind and fatuous hosts of men!
Lift your pale faces to the sun,
And laugh and shout and sing and run;
While he is warm and bright and red
Dance on the bodies of your dead,
Life is the thing, -- the song of life, --
The eager plow, the thirsty knife!
Exult, all sorrows past forget, --
Laugh, there is much to laugh at yet, --
Tear down the pallid things you hate, --
Rip open earth's heart for your mate!
This buried something, -- is it you?
Is this decay the man I knew?
Here's nought but dirt -- here's nought but dust --
It has no gleam of laugh or lust,
Nor does it say a word to me,
Nor reach a warm hand up to me.
Are you become but leaf and grass,
Intricate roots that mat and mass
And thirstily hold and suck the rain?
Here for a half year you have lain,
Quiet as earth is . . . are you earth?
Share you with her some secret mirth?

Foolish of me to think you here,
Where you were buried! . . . Now you are
Diffused through all earth, everywhere,
And look at me from every star.
So will it be with me in time,
Even for me this sun must set;
But I am still in my laughing prime,
O I have much to laugh at yet!

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