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In the Turpitude of Time,
Hope dances on the razor edge.
I see those ever healing feet
Tread the honed edge above despair.
I see the song-wet lip and tossing hair.
The leaf unfolds the autumn weather.
The heart spills the horizon’s light.
In the woods, the hunter, weeping, kneels,
And the dappled fawn weeps in contrition
For its own beauty. I hear the toad’s intercession
For us, and all,m who do not know
How cause flows backward from effect
To bless the past occasion, and
How Time’s tongue lifts only to tell,
Minute by minute, what truth the brave heart will fulfill.
Can we–oh, could we only–believe
What annelid and osprey know,
And the stone, night-long, groans to divulge?
If we could only, then that star
That dawnward slants might sing to our human ear,
And joy, in daylight, run like feet,
And strength, in darkness, wait like hands,
And between the stone and the wind’s voice
A silence wait to become our own song:
In the heart’s last kingdom only the old are young.
–Robert Penn Warren, In the Turpitude of Time: n.d. in: You, Emperors, and Others (1960)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Estimated total calories members of Congress burned giving Bush’s 2002 State of the Union standing ovations:
A fertility scientist named Panayiotis Zavos announced that he had created human-cow embryos that were theoretically viable, but denied that he planned to allow such a hybrid to be implanted in a woman’s womb. “We are not trying to create monsters,” he said.
A statistician determined that the five most common first names among New York City taxi drivers are Md, Mohammad, Mohammed, Muhammad, and Mohamed.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”