When the sky darkens with alabaster and mahogany——

Storm     and     woodsmoke,    and    the    swirling     gyres    of
unpredictability reign;

When the granite laws are brutally enacted;

When the judges  receive  the  verdict  from on high,  and,   as 
of old, close their ears to the truth;

When   the   soup   is meagre,  the  fruit of the vine  bitter   and
premature;

And  the  burden  of the cardinal  virtues  weighs heavily  upon
your shoulders—

When  the  balm   of   distance   recedes  before  your  steps   at
nightfall;

When  injurious  deeds  do  not  trouble the holders  of the iron
keys;

When the sunset blinds  the  eyes  with  blood  and  vengeance;

And   the   will    of   the    tyrant    is unrelenting—your     trials
descending upon your shoulders with the force of a storm that
rides upon the barbed, jagged hills:

In  those  hours,  my  brothers,  my sisters,   I  know  you  have
grown weary—

I know that even ancient words do not provide  solace for your
rocky path,

But  take  heart  in  the pale  light  that  flashes  over  the  dark
mountains,

Steady your hearing to an inner music: wait with impatience——
wait with mercy.

Copyright © 2024 by Ellen Hinsey. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 25, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Canst thou make me immortal, O thou that blamest me so 
For haunting the battle and loving the pleasures that fly? 
If thou hast not the power to ward me from Death, let me go
To meet him and scatter the wealth in my hand, ere I die.

Save only for three things in which noble youth take delight, 
I care not how soon rises o’er me the coronach loud: 
Wine that foams when the water is poured on it, ruddy, not bright, 
Dark wine that I quaff stol’n away from the caviling crowd;

And then my fierce charge to the rescue on back of a mare 
Wide-stepping as wolf I have startled where thirsty he cowers; 
And third, the day-long with a lass in her tent of goat’s hair 
To hear the wild rain and beguile of their slowness the hours.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 14, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.