As he looked at the Sunday paper,
Shrine of the things that matter,
Where he had worshipped over and over again,
Together with millions of other men,
All at once he felt he was failing, failing,
Not keeping up with the times,
Not being one of the young.
And the thought was bitter, bitter,
Like fruit which the sea had bitten
And let go bad in the sun.
How had it happened without his knowing,
This ebb and flow of the latest fashion
Which brought him nothing but sorrow
Here on the stony beach?
He searched his mind for the answer:
As the paper spread before him
Its oceans of glamorous folly,
Into which he had often plunged.
Why should he care if the rout danced onwards,
The unbelievable boys,
The unbelievable girls,
Who looked on the smudgy page
So unbelievably sad?
Had he left a bit of his heart with them
As souvenir of a time long gone?
Did the world they moved in
In his mind the answers clanged
Like gates that came together
Against the curvetting sea,
Which flowed between the bars
As though they were made of air.
But he did not trouble to heap
The sandbanks higher
As the sea came closer home.
No, it was not now their glamour,
Which shot through the paper like molten glass,
Spinning and sparkling,
Catching at every kind of light,
And making their celebrators
Drunk with the most apparent envy.
It was, he realized, something else.
Their sadness made him value them.
If only he spoke the broken language
Inflected with the jagged verbs,
As he had spoken on his own.
If only he could reach them suddenly
With the picture of their devastating sorrow
Which peered between the jeers
In which their lives were set.
How could they not be mourning
Over the loss of youth
Before they even knew
What youth had meant?
And suddenly he prayed
That God would send
Someone to make Him real to them,
These cheated children
Whom the paper world betrayed.