I fi ght a fear that's like Ben Jonson's fear,
Of being too glad of having them down here
Running abreast with me on the hard smooth sand.
And all the better it is for being unplanned:
I have no heed for shorebirds, or the clear
Sunlight inside the wavelets rippling near,
Or other runners, or the familiar blend
Of surf- and gull-noise. -- One of them sprints away
Spattering through the shallows like a pup,
I say to the other "Don't let me hold you up,"
And off he spurts. I watch them happily.
How they shine! across the diff erence of years,
And will shine in my day fears and night fears.
Thinking "by hap of happy hap," the phrase
Cast by the crude old Tudor well displays
The kinship of happiness and luck ... I see
From the corner of my eye how springily
The boys are striding, how their breathing stays
Easy and light. Not so with them always,
Both once rode crutches after surgery.
We round the second point and they run on
Into the haze, down beach I've never run,
While I turn back, and think of how that stretch
They're running is like the years I'll never reach;
And think helplessly, how will it be for them?
It'll be the same and sharply not the same.