ALL BOUGHT AGE

As I mention repeatedly, a sense of transience is very important in hokku, because it is not only all around us, but within us as well.  The writers of hokku express it very simply.  Western poets have a more elaborate way of dealing with it, as in this poem by Louise Driscoll (1875-1957).  It is a good reminder.  No matter what we think we are buying in life, what we are really getting is age:

BARGAIN

With his unspent youth
Like a penny in his hand,
See him stand!
There’s a look on his face
Like a child that comes
To the market-place
After tops and drums.

With his youth—his youth
As a thing that he can spend—
See him run!
And what will he have for
His bargain at the end
When it’s done?

I have asked old men
With their empty purses,
I have heard the tale
Each one rehearses,
And on the last page
They have all bought age.
They have all bought age.

When youth is spent
A penny at a fair,
The old men tell
Of the bargains there.
There was this and that
For a price and a wage,
But when they came away
They had all bought age.

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