Four Letter Words
Four Letter Words
Ten thousand years of thought and toil
That wrought the iron, tilled the soil,
Are written in our teeming brows
With all that intellect allows.
But that which we have built and made,
This mastery and skill displayed,
These citadels of pride and power
Are vain beside a simple flower.
And all that rational mind can show
Is pallid when the breezes blow
Along the hedgerows, summer born,
Dew beaded blossoms at the dawn.
And in our breasts despite our skills
Lurk passions older than the hills,
Passions that command the beast
Command the best of us and least
To stir our genes to rage or lust,
To immortality or dust.
Two words compass all our range,
Immune to cease, or loss or change,
When scientific wisdom fails,
What makes us human yet prevails.
The first of these, a god of war,
Mired in fury, spite and gore
Colossus-like bestrides the world
Deathly banner all unfurled
Spear, shield, forgotten, as he stands
With missiles nestled in his hands.
And yet, for all his legions massed
By one small word he is surpassed.
This second word, on lips sublime
Once murmured in that ear divine
Soothes the anger, calms and heals
Rinses bloodied chariot wheels
Cleanses hands in like degree
And sends the spirit soaring free
In search of what is pure and whole
To nourish body, mind and soul.
This second word descends unbidden
To the heart’s deep places hidden
And nurtured there sets forth its hand
To guide the actions, goad, command
And otherwise bring on the fall
Of sense and logic’s once proud wall
Like castles built upon the strand
This tide race undermines the sand
And all that’s sure was built in vain
When pain is pleasure-pleasure pain.
How bitter-sweet, how true the lie
That tilt of chin or glint of eye
That kindle fire within our core
Will live within us evermore.
And then one day the barb strikes true
And all that once you thought you knew
Was superficial froth and whimsy,
Insubstantial, frail and flimsy.
Hearts once pierced are built anew
Hair of gold or eyes of blue
Enshrined there whilst the years roll by
And take their toll of hair and eye
And youth depletes its vital force
As humid pleasures run their course.
All passion spent, all fervour flown
And yet that word, mutated, grown
Holds deeper still by days defined
With futures narrowed, pasts entwined.
Four letters, hold the world in thrall,
The pulse race is to hear the call
A word found in the dawn of years
A word enriched with joy and tears
Embroidered there with hearts and flowers
Storied all with knights and towers
One word to end when days are done
One last salute, the setting sun
To cheer the timid, spur the brave
Four letters that transcend the grave.