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Futility (Howard)

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Futility
written by Robert Ervin Howard
First published in Daniel Baker Collegian, May 1926. Daniel Baker Collegian was the newspaper of Daniel Baker College in Brownwood, Texas. Link to further information



Time races on and none can stay the tread; Bridal bowers
Re-echo to the flight of bats. Their garland'd towers
Rear like gaunt spectres 'gainst the dawning's red,
Veiled by the fogs of time the Slayer glowers.
Blithe Pan has passed and all the dryads fled.

We walk a dim defined and mystic vale,
The mountains vaguely loom on either hand,
Groping we go and often lose the trail,
Compassed by demon shapes of Shadowland.
On either hand we hear the breakers roar,
The shifting grey fogs close behind, before.

Mazed by the trail, and by the whole world plan,
Drudging and toiling, never knowing why,
The Cosmic Jester of the gods is man,
Philosophers are fools, priests jest and lie.
Nothing is real. Leaves fade and song-birds fly.

Bewildered still, our plodding ways we go,
The vagrant sport of all the winds that blow.
And after all this toilsome fume and fret --
What ocean lies beyond? I only know
This Universal stage is set.

The trail is placed and run that we must follow,
The Destin'd trail. 'Tis none of ours to choose,
The trail that only runs from night to night
From out the grey dawn's cynic and mocking light
Into the smoldering sun-set's crimson wallow.
I only know that though we win, we lose.
I only know that all conflict must cease,
That always after war, comes, somehow, peace.

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