IT took the sea a thousand years,
A thousand years to trace
The granite features of this cliff,
In crag and scarp and base.
It took the sea an hour one night,
An hour of storm to place
The sculpture of these granite seams
Upon a woman's face.
WE know the symptoms well: that sudden stitch,
We call it, in the side, and the cold rheum
That fills the corners of the eyes; the twitch
Of nerves, and those hot spasms that consume
The strength which would endure the duller pains
In creaking joints and knotted sinews. Time
Accounts for it, pouring his chilling rime,
Instead of blood, through arteries and veins
And hardening up the walls. It's just old age,
Plying her tendon needles through and through,
That knits the tangles in the cartilage.
Easy to see why she should come to men
Under the stress of threescore years and ten,
But why to dogs and least of all to you?
Tonight it's hard for me to understand
You are the same great fellow that I knew,
As free-born to the sea as to the land.
There is the same wide forehead; the same wise
Reflection in your brown and tolerant eyes;
The deep curl lustre of your shaggy coat;
The massive jet circumference of your throat;
Your heave of shoulders, length of back--but these,