To the Companions

A poem by Rudyard Kipling

How comes it that, at even-tide,
When level beams should show most truth,
Man, failing, takes unfailing pride
In memories of his frolic youth?

Venus and Liber fill their hour;
The games engage, the law-courts prove;
Till hardened life breeds love of power
Or Avarice, Age's final love.

Yet at the end, these comfort not
Nor any triumph Fate decrees
Compared with glorious, unforgot
Ten innocent enormities

Of frontless days before the beard,
When, instant on the casual jest,
The God Himself of Mirth appeared
And snatched us to His heaving breast

And we not caring who He was
But certain He would come again
Accepted all He brought to pass
As Gods accept the lives of men...

Then He withdrew from sight and speech,
Nor left a shrine. How comes it now,
While Charon's keel grates on the beach,
He calls so clear: "Rememberest thou?"

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