The silence of my days
Deepens, the wind is still:
Unbroken cloud or haze
Wraps up the world until
The minds which once seemed full
Seem empty, dark and dull.

I speak, and no one hears:
I listen, no one speaks.
There is no sound of tears,
No laughter. No one seeks
The future in the past
Where it must come at last.

And is the future new?
They say so, who ignore
Adam and Eve show through
Today as heretofore.
The murder done by Cain
Is daily done again.

Celebrate if you will
The triumph of your genes:
The past is working still
—That is all that it means.
In every spoken word,
Always, the past is heard.

Perhaps silence is best,
But if there must be speech,
Then watch it closely, lest
It stretches out of reach.
The future is too far:
The past is all we are.

C. H. Sisson

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 12 Number 3, on page 46
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