When I became a man, they said,
I’d put away these childish things:
these princesses too fair to wed,
these elves and dragons, phials and rings.
They said that I must turn away
and leave without a backward look,
and join them in the brittle play
of database and ledger-book.
I found a frayed and hanging thread
and picked apart the woven tale,
till tangled skeins lay dull and dead
to mock my hours of slow travail.
The pattern of the yarn is lost,
and learning fits me for a dunce;
bare facts the gain, my soul the cost —
and yet — I wrote that story once.
I blow the cobwebs from my mind
that once were storied tapestries;
I brush away the rusty rind
that crowned those fleeting majesties
who once were kings in cloth of gold,
but now in voiceless beggary
go stumbling through the winter’s cold,
their footprints all their legacy.
What are these pages that I see,
these dead leaves of a withered tree?
Where are the years that sped away
till youth and hope were lost to me?
When did the world turn bitter grey?
I think I will not write today.