Countee Cullen’s “Dad”

His ways are circumspect and bound

With trite simplicities;

His is the grace of comforts found

In homely hearthside ease.

His words are sage and fall with care,

Because he loves me so;

And being his, he knows, I fear,

The dizzy path I go.

For he was once as young as I,

As prone to take the trail,

To find delight in the sea’s low cry,

And a lone wind’s lonely wail.

It is his eyes that tell me most

How full his life has been;

There lingers there the faintest ghost

Of some still sacred sin.

So I must quaff Life’s crazy wine,

And taste the gall and dregs;

And I must spend this wealth of mine,

Of vagrant wistful legs;

And I must follow, follow, follow

The lure of a silver horn,

That echoes from a leafy hollow,

Where the dreams of youth are born.

Then when the star has shed its gleam,

The rose its crimson coat;

When Beauty flees the hidden dream,

And Pan’s pipes blow no note;

When both my shoes are worn too thin,

My weight of fire to bear,

I’ll turn like dad, and like him win

The peace of a snug arm-chair.

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