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William Ernest Henley (Уильям Эрнст Хенли)

Ballade of Truisms

Gold or silver, every day,
         Dies to gray.
There are knots in every skein.
Hours of work and hours of play
         Fade away
Into one immense Inane.
Shadow and substance, chaff and grain,
         Are as vain
As the foam or as the spray.
Life goes crooning, faint and fain,
         One refrain:
‘If it could be always May!’

Though the earth be green and gay,
         Though, they say,
Man the cup of heaven may drain;
Though, his little world to sway,
         He display
Hoard on hoard of pith and brain:
Autumn brings a mist and rain
         That constrain
Him and his to know decay,
Where undimmed the lights that wane
         Would remain,
If it could be always May.

Yea, alas, must turn to Nay,
         Flesh to clay.
Chance and Time are ever twain.
Men may scoff, and men may pray,
         But they pay
Every pleasure with a pain.
Life may soar, and Fortune deign
         To explain
Where her prizes hide and stay;
But we lack the lusty train
         We should gain,
If it could be always May.


Time, the pedagogue, his cane
         Might retain,
But his charges all would stray
Truanting in every lane—
         Jack with Jane—
If it could be always May.

William Ernest Henley's other poems:
  1. Echoes. 17. The Sands Are Alive with Sunshine
  2. Rhymes and Rhythms. 10. Midsummer Midnight Skies
  3. Rhymes and Rhythms. 12. Some Starlit Garden Grey with Dew
  4. In Hospital. 3. Interior
  5. Envoy

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