Whatever sentence will bear to be read twice, we may be sure was thought twice. - Henry David Thoreau
With deep distress I contemplate our generation
Its future stretches on to darkness, emptiness.
Knowing too much, lost in equivocation,
It grows towards old age in idleness.
For we are rich, from infancy or almost,
In all our fathers' faults, their hindsight and their wit,
And life, like a smooth road without a goal, has
Like guests who at an alien banquet sit.
To good and evil shamefully indiff'rent
We wilt yet in the slips, before the lances' shock...
In danger's face - we offer no resistance,
Cowed by authority, a servile flock.
So some poor fruit, too early come to ripeness,
Void of delight - for palate as for eye,
Might dangle waif-like midst Spring blossoms' brightness,
Aware - even as they bloom - that it must die!
Our brain is all dried up by arid learning,
And, jealously, from our best friends we hide
Our dearest hopes and even the noble burning
Of passions which our sceptic minds deride.
Our lips have scarcely touched the cup of pleasure
Yet by this caution we've not saved our strength;
Fearing excess, we have drawn off a measure
From every joy - and left all flat at length.
Great works of art and high, poetic dreaming
Wake in our minds no sweet, responsive thrill
And, avidly we hoard the dregs of feeling,
A miser's wasted talent-buried still.
And casual all alike our loves and hatreds,
We make no sacrifice to love or ire.
The coldness in our souls holds nothing sacred,
Yet in our blood seethes fire.
Bored by our ancestors' delights uproarious,
Their conscientious, childish revelry,
We, hastening joyless on to graves inglorious,
Look back in irony...
A sullen multitude not long remembered
We'll flit earth's face and leave no mark,
No seed of fruitful thought have we engendered,
No work of genius, no living spark
To light the ages for our heirs and citizens to come....
Who will dismiss us with a scornful epitaph
As, seeing his heritage despoiled, a son
Writes off his bankrupt father-with a laugh.