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Poetry Pleases: Ode To An Old Man

Ninety-two summers and ninety=two springs are as fragile and transient as butterfly wings, says Joyce Worsfold's poem.

Ninety-two summers and ninety-two springs
Gone as fragile and transient as butterfly wings
Years of his bending his body to earth
Of raking and seeding and aiding this warm womb to birth
When that body was tiny
It was level with grasses
And spoke with the spiders as they climbed mountain passes
He looked down the trumpets of spring’s golden hoard
Where innumerable bees basked in the pollen their stored
In deep shaded woodlands the bluebells silent sang
And yet child-like and God-close he knew their secret song
And the days they seemed endless, ongoing and long.
Ninety two summers and ninety two springs
His life was his graden, his stage, his mainspring
he thoughts pervaded with the perfume of silver-leafed pinks
And here man and God were close inter-linked
Cabbages and daisies, body and soul
Spirit and effort, innate self-control.
He lived by the seasons at peace with the world
And for ninety two years he laboured and toiled.
Then he resembled an old gnarled tree
His eyes pale and sun-washed hardly able to see
And one day in his garden he gently lay down
As leaves fluttered earthward
Golden and brown.
Ninety two summers and ninety two springs
Had hastened towards winter’s cruel menacings
But death be not proud of this vain victory
He is one with the earth where he so longed to be
And when the sun warms this plot where he laboured so long
What radiant resurrection, what sweet after-song.


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