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Robert G. Brown

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Who Shall Sing, When Man is Gone -- Wisdom
by Robert G. Brown
Monday, November 19, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent poems by Robert G. Brown
•  Who Shall Sing, When Man is Gone -- The Hill
•  Who Shall Sing when Man is Gone: Image
•  Who Shall Sing, When Man is Gone -- So Far Away
•  Hot Tea! -- An Open Letter to Humankind
•  Hot Tea! -- Koan: The Buddha
           >> View all 9

Who Shall Sing, When Man is Gone is a collection of poems built
around the title poem, which is an epic dedicated to nuclear war under
the premise that if such a war ever occurred, it would be worthy in its
own way of a Homeric epic, only there would be no one around to write

In addition to this epic poem, there are many poems long and short that
examine life and death, society and its cruelties and benefits, nature,
and love. Quite a few poems are devoted to philosophy and quiet



Hear me.
Though I am young, with beard ungreyed
yet I am wise,
for I have lived a thousand lives.

Hear me.
I have lived true and strong
unswayed by the winds of deceit
returned honor with honor
and betrayal with ruth and vengeance.

Hear me.
I have lived false and sly
forsworn my friends and allegiance
grown fat on the blood of the fools
who trusted me.

I have grown old and died
alone, and forsaken
surrounded by my kin and loved ones
either way.

Hear me.
I have been bold in love, and shy,
repulsed now, seduced another time,
kept faith for a lifetime,
slept with whoever I choose,
discovered that whichever path you take
at the end of that path you lose.

Hear me.
I have fathered many children
mothered them too
some of them the Gods
and borne them in blood and pain
cut the cord and hushed their first cry
nursed them at my breasts
spitted them on my red sword
watched them piled in pits and burned.

Have none of them learned?
My son turns the furnace on
splendid in his black helmet
to burn the cold and broken body of
my son.

I have watched my children grow old
foolish and wise
while I have died young
died old and childless
died in my daughter's arms
and buried a daughter.
I, too, have known the rage
of a babe
whose life, unrequited,
ended in the hateful night.

Hear me.
I have beguiled the King a thousand times
with tales of brave Ulysses.
I have finally washed my guilty hands
and put away the sword of my vengeance
to live in harmony and peace
though a monster am I.

I have seen the error in my ways
repented in leisure
regretted a still--borne past
and all the chances missed to sin.

Hear me.
For I have seen the world destroyed in strange ways
destroyed it myself, in a fit of passion
and watched in wonder as new worlds
were hurled like dice, or bubbles
from my fingertips.

I have been God
Odin walking with my ravens and patch
Krishna seeking to kill my cousins
and Satan, too.
Lucifer am I, fallen angel
Promethean in my pride, which abides the rending
in hope
that from all of the ending a new thing is born.

I have walked the golden road
sailed the seas
fought in the trenches
cast a spell and been bewitched
and once, long ago
weaved a web to save some pig
which started my feet on the path
to wisdom.

Ah, yes.
I am wise,
full of the borrowed wisdom of ten thousand,
a hundred thousand lives
each seen through the filter of their brightest moments.
the shared experience of the generations is at my command
leading me, though blind I be, a poet
through the empty deserts and hollow hills
the wasted spaces of the living land.

Hear me.
From these myriad flames I have learned
that power and money, false immortality
are fruitless goals
burned by the aims themselves
consumed to ash and scattered in the winds of time.

Long life is illusion, and greed is no end.
We take from our life what we bring
but since that forever is beyond our grasp
books are the next best thing.

To Patrick, William, Sam and all the children of the world...

Who Shall Sing, When Man is Gone
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