Repartee

By George Sterling

I hung a horse-skull on a tree—
  (Solemn stared each hollow eye.)
"There!" I said, "my merry friends!
    Remember that you are to die."

Fled the winter, came the spring,
  When the woods lay brown and lean,
And a vine of hasty growth
  Rose and wrapped the skull in green.

Then a small, intrepid wren,
  All the songs of mating sung,
In the brain-pan, dry and clean,
  Made her nest and hatched her young.

Watching them, I half-forgot
  What it is the Wise Man saith—
Seven hungry little mouths,
  All incredulous of death!

Atom-swayed, the Balance shows
  Time's eternal take and give:
You that come when we are gone,
  Don't forget you are to live.

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