Thrown away at birth, he was recovered,
Plucked from the swaddling-shroud, and chafed
The crone implacable. At last he shivered,
Drew the first breath, and howled, and lay
In a world from which there is but one escape
And that forestalled now almost ninety years.
In such a scene as he himself might shape,
The maker of a thousand songs appears.
From this it follows, all the ironies
Life plays on one whose fate it is to follow
The way of things, the suffering one sees,
The many cups of bitterness he must swallow
Before he is permitted to be gone
Where he was headed in that early dawn.
Collected Poems: 1952-1999, University of
2000. Reprinted by permission of the author.