George Sterling

(1869-1926 / United States)

You Never Can Tell - Poem by George Sterling

Spindrift and bilge and the world turns over!
What is the dross and what the gold?
The snake and the lark ha' nests in the clover,
And which is best when the tale is told?

Thrice I sinned—oh I the heavens' joyance!
Breasts angelic shook wi' the joke;
Once did good—oh ! earth's annoyance I
Hell to pay and the bank gone broke I

James drank posion at love's derision;
John swigged ale and swank in the sun,
Throve, and came to a dark decision,
And, 'Christ! that I were the other one!'

Seth in the swamp and Dan on the mountain—
Either dreamt that he chose his times:
Dan bent young to a fevered fountain;
Seth grew old by the older slimes.

The stolen dollar in Larry's pocket
Turned a bullet to Harry's side—
It missed by a hair his mother's locket:
The thief lives yet and the good man died.

Justice! Justice! where is thy palace,
Hope o' the planet's dark romance ?
Whose is the blood in thy broken chalice,
Slave o' chance? But there is no chance !

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010

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