by Christie Ward
Not many the joys the gods grant to mortals:
the joy of the springtime, the summer's sweetness,
the season of autumn, the pause before snows,
to plough and to sow, to heap high the harvest,
to reach at last peace, rest labor's reward.
Not many the sorrows the gods grant to mortals:
heartbreak falls heavy, simple living is hard labor,
until silent and stealthy death steals swiftly nigh.
Fair friends prove false, youth's a fleeting fable.
Long reknown the sole reward of a life well-lived.
Of what should I sing then? Of what should my song speak,
of any other joys or sorrows but these?
What tale could I tell that has not been told>
a thousand times and a thousand times more
by Sheherazades so much more skilled than I?
Sing shall I then, of what is given to sing of!
Sly tricks or mere skill are not songs for the ages --
present to the people these poems with power:
chant of the year-change, the chimeric seasons,
the proud pageant of life, the procession of death!
But bright rainbow beams all else under heaven,
glistening faery-gold, glimmering fox-fire.
The true poet shall tell his tale, terrible and truth-filled,
a gift we are granted, growing like a goddess,
springing full-formed from the pen to the fretful page.
Of men there are many, and many the singers.
One is the song that shall rise above all:
of man sing the song then! The ideal! The spirit!
Away shall pass peoples, but never the power
of song, nor the poet who sings the soul of his people.