John Crowe Ransom

Poets Have Chanted Mortality

It had better been hidden
But the Poets inform:
We are chattel and liege
    Of an undying Worm.

Were you, Will, disheartened,
    When all Stratford’s gentry
Left their Queen and took service
    In his low-lying country?

How many white cities
    And grey fleets on the storm
Have proud-builded, hard-battled,
    For this undying Worm?

Was a sweet chaste lady
    Would none of her lover.
Nay, here comes the Lewd One,
    Creeps under her cover!

Have ye said there’s no deathless
     Of face, fashion, form,
Forgetting to honor
     The extent of the Worm?

O ye laughers and light-lipped,
    Ye faithless, infirm,
I can tell you who’s constant,
    ’Tis the Eminent Worm.

Ye shall trip on no limits,
    Neither time ye your term,
In the realms of His Absolute
    Highness the Worm.