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Kowhai Gold

[Betty Riddell]

Old Man
Old man, old man, walled warmly in with peace,
From sorrow and delight you sit apart.
From mirth and agony at last release
Comes, and the strange occasions of the heart
Trouble no more the ways of your white age.

Turn in your head against the breast of time
Old man, old man, for ended is the fight
And quieter than an unremembered rhyme
And quieter than day-haunted trees at night
You shall slip into the silence and be gone.

Being dead, they'll clog your mouth lest you arise,
Made bold by dealings with the worms and dust,

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And shout, with soil still crusted on your eyes,
How both the ploughshare and the sword are rust,
And God as aimless as a drifted shell.

The Cripple
Not for me a roof-tree, child or lover,
But only this white room
And all the patient stars
Peering through the bars
Into my prison's gloom—
This whiteness, and the magic night for cover.

Not for me the smooth delight of leaping
Into the water clear—
Only the chair's restraint,
The brilliance of white paint,
Not sunlight like a spear
To stab the waters and my soul from sleeping.

Not for me a roof-tree, child or lover,
This is my fate.  For me
To grow quiet and lined
Knowing love only kind,
Tasting no ecstasy.
Night, gently bend and lend me of your cover.