Words & Music

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Monday, September 18, 2017

O Time too swift



His golden locks Time hath to silver turn'd;

  O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing!

His youth 'gainst time and age hath ever spurn'd,

  But spurn'd in vain; youth waneth by increasing:

Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen;
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.





The poetry above is the first verse of a poem called “A Farewell to Arms,” by English poet George Steele. It was written in 1590 as a dedication at the retirement ceremony for Queen Elizabeth’s champion knight. Ostensibly a knight's tribute this meditation on aging continues:

His helmet now shall make a hive for bees;

  And, lovers' sonnets turn'd to holy psalms,

A man-at-arms must now serve on his knees,

  And feed on prayers, which are Age his alms:
But though from court to cottage he depart,

His Saint is sure of his unspotted heart.




There is some debate as to whether Hemingway was referencing this poem in his novel of the same name. If so, it may have been as irony. Steele’s poem concludes with the soldier as “beadsman,” fingering his rosaries in prayers devoted to his queen:
 
And when he saddest sits in homely cell,

  He'll teach his swains this carol for a song,—

'Blest be the hearts that wish my sovereign well,

  Curst be the souls that think her any wrong.'

Goddess, allow this ag├Ęd man his right

To be your beadsman now that was your knight.