Monday, August 10, 2009

Passed Off the Stage - - - by James Buschanan

They say I have passed off the stage.
Oh well,it may be true,
I'm not as strong as when I stood six feet, at thirty two.
I know I am getting bent and old, my hair is silvery gray.
But, Oh, 'tis hard to hear it said, "The old man's had his day."
It was not very long ago, it scarcely seems a year,
When I was stronger than a yearling colt and fleeter than a deer.

My arms were like the sinewy root that thrust out from the oak.
And I was straight as the towering pine that tempts the woodsman stroke.
There wasn't one, in all the town, how sad the contrast now,
Could mow a steadier stroke than I, or drive a straighter plow.

And even when my hair turned gray,no whit my strength declined,
I used to race boys afield and leave them all behind.
But now they bring the cushioned chair, and put it in the sun,
And fetch me out my pipe and pouch, as soon as breakfast is done.

And bid me sit an hour or two..."the day'll be long and hot".
And then they go and leave me there, unheeded and forgot.
Sometimes I take my staff, and creep along the orchard wall.
But weary, set me down to rest, where grateful shadows fall.

Far off the meadows swim with heat---fresh smells thenew mowed hay.
But I can go no more afield, for I have had my day.
Oh God, it is a weary thing to live an out-worn life.
To have no further part in manly toil and strife.

To know that all one's active days have passed forever by
And all that now remains is just to rest and die.
I don't know why I dread it so, this passing off the stage.
Some folks think life is mighty hard, and long for smooth old age.

But I'd rather strive and toil, till all my bones are sore.
Than to be sitting useless here,m beside the farm house door.
Oh well, 'tis little use to cry, because the milk is spilt.
'Tis little use to swing the sword, with nothing left but the hilt.

I've done my duty, while I could, and now if needs must be,
That I have done for others, let others do for me.
It is the rule of life I know, and honest turn about.
We help our babies into life, and they in turn must help us out,

Their turn will come too, soon enough, like rolling wave on wave.
The generations pour their tide into a common grave.
One day a babe, the next a man, the next unnamed, unknown,
Save a moss-encrusted line upon a smoldering stone.

Our life is swifter than the take upon the fleeting page-
We've but to learn the play, and then pass off the stage.

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