We get the Dialectic fairly well,
How streams descending turn to trees that climb,
That what we are not we shall be in time,
Why some unlikes attract, all likes repel.
But is it up to creatures or their fate
To give the signal when to change a state?

Granted that we might possibly be great
And even be expected to get well
How can we know it is required by fate
As truths are forced on poets by a rhyme?
Ought we to rush upon our lives pell-mell?
Things have to happen at the proper time

And no two lives are keeping the same time,
As we grow old our years accelerate,
The pace of processes inside each cell
Alters profoundly when we feel unwell,
The motions of our protoplasmic slime
Can modify our whole idea of fate.

Nothing is unconditional but fate.
To grumble at it is a waste of time,
To fight it, the unpardonable crime.
Our hopes and fears must not grow out of date,
No region can include itself as well,
To judge our sentence is to live in hell.

Suppose it should turn out, though, that our bell
Has been in fact already rung by fate?
A calm demeanor is all very well
Provided we were listening at the time.
We have a shrewd suspicion we are late,
Our look of rapt attention just a mime,

That we have really come to like our grime,
And do not care, so far as one can tell,
For whom or for how long we are to wait.
Whatever we obey becomes our fate,
What snares the pretty little birds is time,
That what we are, we only are too well.

(written in 1941 and never published)