David Punter

A Song of Experience


Now I am old I remember everything

How doors swing shut and why the wild woods sing

What felt like loss and what deceived as gain

How ecstasy could masquerade as pain


How what you’ve learned that’s valuable stays in you

And who it was whose keepsake dwells within you

What the monastery gardener meant to say

And how to dance all night and all the day


How to read the angry guardian deities’ smile

And cope with the sergeant-major’s sweating guile

How seasoned wreck-survivors tell their tale

While calling for another jug of ale.


I reached the end of my tether long ago

And laugh to see there’s still more time to grow.


I get exhausted with people telling me about how poor older people’s memories are; what is really the case is that we have more to remember than the young, and mostly we do it pretty well. That is what spurred this poem; its title is of course a nod to Blake, one of the greatest poetry of human experience.

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