A Sign

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A Sign
written by Walter de la Mare
The Veil and Other Poems (1921) Link to further information




HOW shall I know when the end of things is coming?
The dark swifts flitting, the drone-bees humming;
The fly on the window-pane bedazedly strumming;
Ice on the waterbrooms their clear chimes dumbing.

How shall I know that the end of things is coming?
The stars in their stations will shine glamorous in the black:
Emptiness, as ever, haunt the great Star Sack;
And Venus, proud and beautiful, go down to meet the day,
Pale in phosphorescence of the green sea spray -
How shall I know that the end of things is coming?

Head asleep on pillow; the peewits at their crying;
A strange face in dreams to my rapt phantasma sighing;
Silence beyond words of anguished passion;
Or stammering an answer in the tongue's cold fashion -
How shall I know that the end of things is coming?
Haply on strange roads I shall be, the moorland's peace around me;
Or counting up a fortune to which Destiny hath bound me;
Or - Vanity of Vanities - the honey of the Fair;
Or a greybeard, lost to memory, on the cobbles in my chair -
How shall I know that the end of things is coming?

The drummers will be drumming; the fiddlers at their thrumming;
Nuns at their beads; the mummers at their mumming;
Heaven's solemn Seraph stoopt weary o'er his summing;
The palsied fingers plucking, the way-worn feet numbing -
And the end of things coming.

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