Faust In Old Age
Poem by Delmore Schwartz
"Poet and veteran of childhood, look!
See in me the obscene, for you have love,
For you have hatred, you, you must be judge,
Deliver judgement, Delmore Schwartz.
Well-known wishes have been to war,
The vicious mouth has chewed the vine.
The patient crab beneath the shirt
Has charmed such interests as Indies meant.
For I have walked within and seen each sea,
The fish that flies, the broken burning bird,
Born again, beginning again, my breast!
Purple with persons like a tragic play.
For I have flown the cloud and fallen down,
Plucked Venus, sneering at her moan.
I took the train that takes away remorse;
I cast down every king like Socrates.
I knocked each nut to find the meat;
A worm was there and not a mint.
Metaphysicians could have told me this,
But each learns for himself, as in the kiss.
Polonius I poked, not him
To whom aspires spire and hymn,
Who succors children and the very poor;
I pierced the pompous Premier, not Jesus Christ,
I picked Polonius and Moby Dick,
the ego bloomed into an octopus.
Now come I to the exhausted West at last;
I know my vanity, my nothingness,
now I float will-less in despair's dead sea,
Every man my enemy.
Spontaneous, I have too much to say,
And what I say will no one not old see:
If we could love one another, it would be well.
But as it is, I am sorry for the whole world, myself
apart. My heart is full of memory and desire, and in
its last nervousness, there is pity for those I have
touched, but only hatred and contempt for myself."
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