Grace in Decline

What is the bird to do whose wings no longer let it fly?
What shall the artist do whose eyes are dimmed to sightless blur?
Or the soldier who has lost a leg and has no trade to ply,
Or the player who no longer hears the notes his hands conjure?

The flightless bird is soon devoured. The other three, in truth,
Fare better, though it is a tragedy that's hard to bear,
And each of us must face the day when beauty, health, and youth
Have left us ailing, feeble, and an object of despair.

Yet still the greater part of us will struggle to the end
To make up for our losses and complete our lives with grace.
As parts of us break down, we learn to cope and to depend
On other parts, and thus retain awhile a forward pace

In life. This the best we can expect in later years.
In youth, we throw away ourselves. We fret and hope and pine.
In age, we yet may come to see the foolishness of tears
And finally bear with dignity the reaping stroke of Time.

George Chadderdon © 2002