The Last Word (Gale)

The Last Word  (1903) 
by Zona Gale

From Harper's Magazine, Nov 1903

The Last Word


HERE I sit with eighty years
Buried somewhere in my bones.
I can only see the world
Move along in monotones.
All the peril of the sun
And the laughter too are done.
(Hear the fools there in the passage
Talk of larger vision won!)

Grace o' God, can they not see
That the wisdom comes too late?
Oh, my heart is bitter full
Of reflections delicate
On the beauty that is truth,
On the art that saves, forsooth.
(Hear the fools there in the passage
Mourn the blindness of their youth!)

I have lived the utter life,
Loved the color, loved the word,
Let no light die unresisting,
Let no far flute fail unheard.
All my days and nights are lit
With a secret exquisite
(Hear the little voice come calling
All the weary pain of it!)

Little voice that used to laugh,
Little voice that used to sing—
Somewhere in those eighty years—
Lullaby and love-longing.
I must listen, I must weep
For the voice I could not keep.
(Oh, the silence of the darkness
Where was breath of her asleep!)

Here they come to bring me praise,
Here they come, there they go,
Lauding loud the work I've done,
Books a-many in a row.
And they envy me and sigh,
And they think those books are I.
Fools there, with some heart to love you,
Pass the larger wisdom by!

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.

The author died in 1938, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.