Loren Eiseley

The Quainter Dust

From Prairie Schooner

I own no mastery of the singing pen
To save from dustiness of niggard Time
Your frail, dark beauty, nor to unborn men
Cry the old passion into living rhyme.
This must be the recompense to us who pass—
That churchyard moldering is quickly done.
You will not linger there, beneath the grass,
To be a jest, an outworn skeleton.

Oh, I, who listen to the living mock
The antique words that once were leaping breath
On lovers’ lips before the Ancient Clock
Had ticked them all away—I know this death!
Its lying anodyne of words is just
An immortality of quainter dust!

Reprinted from Prairie Schooner Vol VIII No 3 (Summer 1934) by permission of University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1929 by the Wordsmiths of Sigma Upsilon.