Poems about Time, Aging, Death and Loss

These are poems I have written about time, mortality, aging, death and loss.

Thirty
by Michael R. Burch

Thirty crept upon me slowly
with feline caution and a slowly-twitching tail ...
How patiently she waited for the winds to shift!
Now, claws unsheathed, she lies seething to assail
her helpless prey.

***

Modern Charon
by Michael R. Burch

EPIGRAMS II

These are my modern English translations of epigrams by ancient poets like Homer, Rumi and Seneca.

Elevate your words, not their volume. Rain gros flowers, not thunder.
—Rumi, translation by Michael R. Burch

For the gods have decreed that unfortunate mortals must suffer, while they themselves are sorrowless.
—Homer (circa 800 BC), Iliad 24.525-526, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

THIS WORLD OF DEW …

In their haiku the Oriental masters of the form frequently used dew as a metaphor for the transience of life. Some of these poets have used dew metaphorically in a jisei (a type of death poem sometimes called a “zen death poem”) … but then I discovered to my surprise that I had used dew in similar ways quite frequently in my own poetry …

This world?
Moonlit dew
flicked from a crane’s bill.
— Eihei Dogen Kigen, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch 

Love And Time

This is the place, as husht and dead
As when I saw it long ago;
Down the dark walk with shadows spread
I wander slow.

The tangled sunlight, cold and clear,
Steals frost-white through the boughs around.
There is no warmth of summer here,
No summer sound.
Darnet and nettle, as I pass,
Choke the dim ways, and in the bowers
Gather the weeds and the wild grass
Instead of flowers.

O life! O time! O days that die!
O days that live within the mind!
Here did we wander, she and I,
Together twined.

Two Words

'God' is composed of letters three,
But if you put an 'l'
Before the last it seems to me
A synonym for Hell.
For all of envy, greed and hate
The human heart can hold
Respond unto the devil's bait
Of Gold.

When God created Gold to be
For our adorning fit,
I little think he dreamed that we
Would come to worship it.
But when you ruefully have scanned
The chronicles of Time,
You'll find that lucre lends a hand


Two Children

Give me your hand, oh little one!
Like children be we two;
Yet I am old, my day is done
That barely breaks for you.
A baby-basket hard you hold,
With in it cherries four:
You cherish them as men do gold,
And count them o'er.

And then you stumble in your walk;
The cherries scattered lie.
You pick them up with foolish talk
And foolish glad am I,
When you wipe one quite clean of dust
And give it unto me;
So in the baby-basket just


Twowere immortal twice

800

Two—were immortal twice—
The privilege of few—
Eternity—obtained—in Time—
Reversed Divinity—

That our ignoble Eyes
The quality conceive
Of Paradise superlative—
Through their Comparative.


Transit

A woman I have never seen before
Steps from the darkness of her town-house door
At just that crux of time when she is made
So beautiful that she or time must fade.

What use to claim that as she tugs her gloves
A phantom heraldry of all the loves
Blares from the lintel? That the staggered sun
Forgets, in his confusion, how to run?

Still, nothing changes as her perfect feet
Click down the walk that issues in the street,
Leaving the stations of her body there


Pages

Subscribe to RSS - time