James Agee


Child, should any pleasant boy
Find you lovely, many could,
Wind not up between your joy 
The sly delays of maidenhood:

Spread all your beauty in his sight
And do him kindness every way,
Since soon, too soon, the wolfer night
Climbs in between, and ends fair play.


A summer noon the middle sun
Stunned me full of waking sleep
And spread me slack as stone upon
The grass in foundered deep

There in that steep and loaded shine
Of hungriest life and crested year
To dream what plenitudes were mine
What fat futurities made near

When cold athwart these ripening plans
The shade o'erswam me like a sheet
Of draughty disappointed vans,
And lobbered beak, and drawling feet.


No doubt left. Enough deceiving
Now I know you do not love.
Now you know I do not love.
Now we know we do not love.
No more doubt. No more deceiving.
Yet there is pity in us for each other
And better times are almost fresh as true.
The dog returns. And the man to his mother.
And tides. And you to me. And I to you.
And we are cowardly kind the cruellest way,
Feeling the cliff unmorsel from our heels
And knowing balance gone, we smile, and stay
A little, whirling our arms like desperate wheels.


Not met and marred with the year's whole turn of grief,
But easily on the mercy of the morning
Fell this still folded leaf:

Small that never Summer spread
Demented on the dusty heat;
And sweet that never Fall
Wrung sere and tarnished red;
Safe now that never knew
Stunning Winter's bitter blue
It fell fair in the fair season:

Therefore with reason
Dress all in cheer and lightly put away
   With music and glad will
This little child that cheated the long day
    Of the long day's ill:
Who knows this breathing joy, heavy on us all,
Never, never, never.