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Futility Analysis

Author: poem of Robert Service Type: poem Views: 0

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Dusting my books I spent a busy day:

Not ancient toes, time-hallowed and unread,

but modern volumes, classics in their way,

whose makers now are numbered with the dead;

Men of a generation more than mine,

With whom I tattled, battled and drank wine.

I worshipped them, rejoiced in their success,

Grudging them not the gold that goes with fame.

I thought them near-immortal, I confess,

And naught could dim the glory of each name.

How I perused their pages with delight! . . .

To-day I peer with sadness in my sight.

For, death has pricked each to a flat balloon.

A score of years have gone, they're clean forgot.

Who would have visioned such a dreary doom?

By God! I'd like to burn the blasted lot.

Only, old books are mighty hard to burn:

They char, they flicker and their pages turn.

And as you stand to poke them in the flame,

You see a living line that stabs the heart.

Brave writing that! It seems a cursed shame

That to a bonfire it should play it's part.

Poor book! You're crying, and you're not alone:

Some day someone will surely burn my own.

No, I will dust my books and put them by,

Yet never look into their leaves again;

For scarce a soul remembers them save I,

Re-reading them would only give me pain.

So I will sigh, and say with curling lip:

Futility! Thy name is authorship.


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