When I Am Old - Poem by gershon hepner
When I am old and still inflamed of you,
what will you charge me for my interest in
your body? For what I will want to do,
will you charge interest, though that is a sin?
What will you tell my rivals when my hair
has fallen out, my teeth are rotten and
my breath, though sweet I hope, is short, and where
and how will we cavort if I’m unmanned?
Will you assist me to regain my length
if I should come up short, as Abishag
assisted David when he lost his strength,
a state concerning which his Psalms don’t brag?
Unruly fool less busy than the sun,
I’m sure that my conclusions are foregone;
without you I’m afraid I’ll be undone:
that’s why I always want to be your John.
Inspired by John Donne’s “Love’s Usury” and the first line of “Busy Old Fool”:
FOR every hour that thou wilt spare me now,
I will allow,
Usurious god of love, twenty to thee,
When with my brown my gray hairs equal be.
Till then, Love, let my body range, and let
Me travel, sojourn, snatch, plot, have, forget,
Resume my last year's relict; think that yet
We'd never met.
Let me think any rival's letter mine,
And at next nine
Keep midnight's promise; mistake by the way
The maid, and tell the lady of that delay;
Only let me love none; no, not the sport
From country grass to confitures of court,
Or city's quelque-choses; let not report
My mind transport.
This bargain's good; if when I'm old, I be
Inflamed by thee,
If thine own honour, or my shame and pain,
Thou covet most, at that age thou shalt gain.
Do thy will then; then subject and degree
And fruit of love, Love, I submit to thee.
Spare me till then; I'll bear it, though she be
One that love me.
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