The ghost of Ninon would be sorry now
To laugh at them, were she to see them here,
So brave and so alert for learning how
To fence with reason for another year.
Age offers a far comelier diadem
Than theirs; but anguish has no eye for grace,
When time’s malicious mercy cautions them
To think a while of number and of space.
The burning hope, the worn expectancy,
The martyred humor, and the maimed allure,
Cry out for time to end his levity,
And age to soften its investiture;