The Nomads


Men in cities, men busy everywhere
Live by a faith that roads lead to some end:
Home, pleasure, a goal attained, a lover, a friend.
‘If it were not so,’ they say, ‘we must despair.’

But not the nomads, they never think this way;
Wherever they chance to stop, the roads go on
To nowhere, to anywhere. For them the one
Despair is a fixed roof, a permanent stay.

Theirs are different natures. They see the things we see;
The words are the same — they look with different eyes;
I would not call them more human or less wise,
Nor think them less happy, more justified than we.

They are simply other; They give and they forgive,
But do not ask for anything in return,
Learn only what they have is no need to unlearn,
Clutch at no rights, claim no prerogative.

When I ask my friend the nomad, ‘Would you agree
I have made my mark in the world?’ he answers, ‘Why
Yes, you have made something of your life; but I
Prefer to find out what life will make of me.’

I speak of love. He laughs, saying, ‘Friend, you have won
That treasure to hold and keep; but love for me
Is a wayward lightning, a chance felicity,
An ungressed gateway opening on the unknown.’

I talk of his life, the endless, empty miles,
The trivial monotony of the wanderer’s way;
He asks, have I lived by the joy of the single day?
I talk then of death, but he looks at me and smiles,

Saying, ‘Ah, but you live so rooted in time, you see.
You have never experienced an absolute moment, my friend;
Death is not the beginning of anything, nor the end,
But, as each instant lived for itself must be,
That pure, that limitless “now”, Eternity.’

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