To Postumus

A poem by Eugene Field

O Postumus, my Postumus, the years are gliding past,
And piety will never check the wrinkles coming fast,
The ravages of time old age's swift advance has made,
And death, which unimpeded comes to bear us to the shade.

Old friend, although the tearless Pluto you may strive to please,
And seek each year with thrice one hundred bullocks to appease,
Who keeps the thrice-huge Geryon and Tityus his slaves,
Imprisoned fast forevermore with cold and sombre waves,

Yet must that flood so terrible be sailed by mortals all;
Whether perchance we may be kings and live in royal hall,
Or lowly peasants struggling long with poverty and dearth,
Still must we cross who live upon the favors of the earth.

And all in vain from bloody war and contest we are free,
And from the waves that hoarsely break upon the Adrian Sea;
For our frail bodies all in vain our helpless terror grows
In gloomy autumn seasons, when the baneful south wind blows.

Alas! the black Cocytus, wandering to the world below,
That languid river to behold we of this earth must go;
To see the grim Danaides, that miserable race,
And Sisyphus of Æolus, condemned to endless chase.

Behind you must you leave your home and land and wife so dear,
And of the trees, except the hated cypresses, you rear,
And which around the funeral piles as signs of mourning grow,
Not one will follow you, their short-lived master, there below.

Your worthier heir the precious Cæcuban shall drink galore,
Now with a hundred keys preserved and guarded in your store,
And stain the pavements, pouring out in waste the nectar proud,
Better than that with which the pontiffs' feasts have been endowed.

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