O Time too swift


His golden locks Time hath to silver turn’d;
  O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing!
His youth ‘gainst time and age hath ever spurn’d,
  But spurn’d in vain; youth waneth by increasing:
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen;
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.


The poetry above is the first verse of a poem called “A Farewell to Arms,” by English poet George Steele. It was written in 1590 as a dedication at the retirement ceremony for Queen Elizabeth’s champion knight. Ostensibly a knight’s tribute this meditation on aging continues:
His helmet now shall make a hive for bees;
  And, lovers’ sonnets turn’d to holy psalms,
A man-at-arms must now serve on his knees,
  And feed on prayers, which are Age his alms:
But though from court to cottage he depart,
His Saint is sure of his unspotted heart.


There is some debate as to whether Hemingway was referencing this poem in his novel of the same name. If so, it may have been as irony. Steele’s poem concludes with the soldier as “beadsman,” fingering his rosaries in prayers devoted to his queen:
 

And when he saddest sits in homely cell,
  He’ll teach his swains this carol for a song,—
‘Blest be the hearts that wish my sovereign well,
  Curst be the souls that think her any wrong.’
Goddess, allow this agèd man his right
To be your beadsman now that was your knight.

Published by mikepowernyc

New album "Observations" available now. A veteran of NYC’s underground music scene, Mike Power played on the stages of such beloved lost venues as CBGB’s and Kenny’s Castaways, as well as stalwart surviving ones like Arlene’s Grocery and the Bitter End as singer/songwriter/bassist with Late Model Humans. In 2020, quarantining from the global pandemic he worked remotely with other artists to record a collection of new music called Observations, that infuses his punk roots with introspective acoustic pieces.

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