Flesh and blood, bone and skin,
Are the house that beauty lives in.
Formed in darkness, grown in light
Are they the substance of delight.
Who could have dreamed the things he sees
In these strong lovely presences--
In cheeks of children, thews of men,
Women's bodies beloved of men?
Who could have dreamed a thing so wise
As that clear look of the child's eyes?
Who the thin texture of her hand
But with a hand's touch understand?
Shaped in eternity were these
Body's miracles, where the seas
Their continuous rhythm learned,
And the stars in their bright order burned.
From stars and seas was motion caught
When flesh, blood, bone and skin were wrought
Into swift lovely liveliness.
Oh, but beauty less and less
Than beauty grows. The cheeks fall in,
Colour dies from the smooth skin,
And muscles slack and bones are brittle;
Veins and arteries little by little
Delay the tides of the blood:
That is a ditch that was a flood.
Then all but dry bones disappears,
White bones that lie a hundred years
Cheated of resurrection....
Where is that beauty gone?
Escaped even while we watched it so,
And none guessed the way it would go?
Only it's fled, and here alone
Lie blood and skin and flesh and bone.
Where is the beauty that was here?