Three Poems by Foltaire

14 June 2004

Onus Æternus

How could anything be truly free,
the great, the small, the near, the far -- all
inalienable and crucial to the moment,
while heavenly bodies tumble and collide,
each bound alike by terrible compulsion,
crashing together for an eternity;
and what stands out on this terrific ocean?
Who says impudently that he is free,
while each is bound alike through destiny,
whereby each thing must be born anew,
that blame or attribution naught should bear,
but all, the onus of eternity.

The Flood

The world is a torrent; it is the flood
in which all men are swept. The hapless tread
with desperation, as the rest are fed
with favor on a current of sweat and blood.
Those who resist get stuck in eddies' mud,
and drown eventually in waves of dread,
while happy men are necessarily sped
on to death's bank with one, last, futile thud.
Mankind drifts helpless in a cataract,
as hope cascades, as turgid tears are wept.
There is no bastion safe nor raft intact,
as everyone, in fate's deluge, is swept.
These are the swells which no one can retract:
even to steer themselves, men are inept.


We've always found such comfort by the little hearth
That we'll forget a vagabond's hour of travail;
The desolate open way we've come to pour some ale,
And drown the hellish memory of pain and dearth,
Because, we've only known upon the couch of mirth
How sumptuous and natural is the regale,
Even lulled to hear the wind's sequestered wail
In the wilderness of woe that measures out the earth.

We've tried to be wise, and tried to view aright,
Lest blessed luxury should make us vain,
The icy terror of the endless night,
This boundless universe too fit for pain,
With proper awe, but fleeting is our fright
Until we are to terror thrown again.

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