But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near . . .
Or so said Andrew Marvell back in the 17th century. Given my present age and the present pestilential crisis, I find the words just as pertinent for today. One wonders who is driving that chariot and one suspects it is someone one would rather not meet late at night in a dark alley.
Marvell is addressing a woman whom he wishes to seduce. He states that right up front:
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
One of my favorite readings of the poem is this one by Tom O’Bedlam, nicely accompanied by the written text
And the days dwindle down
To a precious few
September, November . . .
Yes, they have certainly dwindled down for me. For many years now I have realized that I have fewer days in front of me than behind, and the number of those remaining days declines each day I live.
If diamonds were abundant they wouldn’t be worth much. The fewer days I have left, the more precious each one is. I have reached that time in life when I am grateful each morning that I wake up and I go to bed each evening hoping that I will wake up yet again, even though I am increasingly resigned to and prepared for the possibility that I might not so awaken.
But I do want to do what I can to have a few more of those precious days in my future. I do what I can these days to maintain my health and the health of those with whom I make contact (for their days to come are precious too). It means sacrificing social life at present for life in the future. It means isolating myself to the degree possible, relying on the telephone and email and social media for what interaction I may have with friends and family. It means finding ways to make this day in its own way precious.
Will I ensure for myself and for others one more day? A month? Years of days?
Whatever the number, they will be worth the effort.
For, as Marvell says,
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.
I leave you with Willie Nelson: