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Who Can Tell a Wave...

March 20, 2018

 

Who Can Tell a Wave…

 

Who can tell a wave when its run will end?
            A soldier answers, “None.”
How many chances come to flee or stand?
            Again the answer, “One.”
For those who neither stood, nor fell, nor fled,
            The waves may die away;
They cheered the longboats off  to Iliad
            But did not sail that day.
And yet, they sailed. For each, there has been life
            Whose dignity did hang
Upon their choice – if not by gun or knife,
            By a voice within, that rang
For an instant. They too, could not tell the wave
            When was its time to break,
Yet endlessly that moment they must save
            That they did leave, or take.

 

 

Something To Do on Pearl Harbor Day

 

It is a late Fall day, the leaves have fallen.
A manual task, he is intent upon it.
His first son would have done it had he been here,
Would have come home and done it, had he lived;
A job that looks so small beneath that mountain
That backs upon his land with towering forest
Looming so high above him in the twilight.
So tiny, these few hours of human labor --
But oh, the laboring thoughts they hold at bay --
Of what his son thought of the war that took him;
Of cutting down the power of human folly,
What change there needs to make, and who will make it --
He throws the job aside, as if to show
How high above a mountain thoughts can go.

 

 

Paul Gallagher is a poet, translator and also an economics journalist. He has spent much of his life fighting for the revival of classical poetry and classical culture. More of his writings on culture can be found here.

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