LONG, long before men die I sometimes read
Their stoic backs as plain as graveyard stones,
An epitaph of poor dead men indeed.
I never pass those old and crooked bones,
Ridden far down with burden and with age,
Stopping the headlong highway till they lean
Aside in honor of my equipage,
But I am sick and shamed that Heaven has been
So clumsy with the inelastic clay!
'What pretty piece of hope then have you spun,
My old defeated traveler,' I say,
'That keeps you marching on? For I have none.
I have looked often and I have not found
Old men bowed low who ever rose up sound.'