A late picking—the old man sips his wine
And eyes his vineyard flourishing row on row.
Ripe clusters, hanging heavy on the vine,
Catch the sun’s afterglow.
He thinks: next vintage will not be too bad.
The spätlese at last, as I recall,
Has caught the grace I aimed at as a lad;
Yet ripeness is not all.
Young men still seek perfection of the type;
A grace that lies beyond, one learns in time.
The improbable ferment of the overripe
May touch on the sublime.
Old men should be adventurous. On the whole
I think that’s what old age is really for:
Tolstoy at Astapovo finds his soul;
Ulysses hefts his oar.