Norman Boyer

By George Sterling

The years go by, and I am yet to be
    Where lies your dust, friend of a month and day.
The hours we spent together by the sea
            Seem very far away!

Moonstones, and shells of silver and of gold.
    Awhile I gathered, hardly knowing why,
And wondered that your gaze was fixed and cold,
            There, as you watched the sky.

But that Horizon which you pondered on
     I knew not, I that am one day to know.
Outward so soon your shadowy bark was gone
            Where all the ships must go!

For even then, as quietly you scanned
    The sea-line, hard between the azures met,
The word has come, the going-forth was planned,
            The last decision set.

Vainly, I think, you strove to take the blame
    From other hearts,—to balance peace and strife;
Vainly, till sure as death is sure, there came
            The swift distaste for life.

The fool alone may censure you, I think.
    The wise have other vision, having stood,
Themselves, in question at oblivion's brink.
            Incredulous of good.

The Host that had you in from out the night
    Served viands that were little to your taste:
You turned in silence from the noise and light
            To gain the soothing waste.

I wonder not. I more than half admire
    The critical disdain that set you free,
And find it odd that men so slowly tire
            Of Time's banality.

Tis strange that I should like that Spider's mesh,
    Nor mix with Life to sicken at a touch.
The sures and pimples on the lovely flesh
            Disturb me not too much.

Would you decide me callous, you that had
    No stomach for the base, delicious feast,
And think me, in my power to be glad,
            Too near the miring beast?

Could you but say which one of us was blind!
    Which way led sanity? And did you use
Courage and wisdom that we do not find?
            And shall the dead accuse?

The simple heart sees life in white and black,
    And may be right at that. To me 'tis grey.
Hear music in the screaming from the rack?
            Some hear that way.

What doors go wide at bullet, drug or knife?
    See you the Scheme? Or do you see at all?
Deride myself for not deriding life?
            Must life appall?

Time is, and still cries Pilate, "What is truth?"
    Amid the million answers make your cast!
The tolerance that cannot be in youth,
            The wise attain at last.

"The wise?" Again the argument's begun,
    And forms loom vaguely through the darkling glass!
O questions to be answered but by one,
            And that one's self, alas!

The tumult or the quietude? None knows
    Which he had found the dearest and the best;
And whatsoever way the current flows,
            "I like" is still the test.

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