On the Shortness of Time

Last month, in a post on an EconTalk with Bob Chitester, I seconded Bob’s view of the importance of poetry.

One of my favorites, which I never see anyone else quote, is one I learned in high school. My high school English teacher, believe it or not, was Miss English.

It’s titled “On the Shortness of Time” and is by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. My favorite lines are the last two. Here it is:

If I could live without the thought of death,
Forgetful of time’s waste, the soul’s decay,
I would not ask for other joy than breath,
With light and sound of birds and the sun’s ray.
I could sit on untroubled day by day
Watching the grass grow, and the wild flowers range
From blue to yellow and from red to grey
In natural sequence as the seasons change.
I could afford to wait, but for the hurt
Of this dull tick of time which chides my ear.
But now I dare not sit with loins ungirt
And staff unlifted, for death stands too near.
I must be up and doing — ay, each minute.
The grave gives time for rest when we are in it.