Eulogy for the Old Man on the Hill


By Maurice Young (1972)

There’s a lonely old man away, way high up on a hill;

puffing vainly on his pipe amidst the stench in the chill

that his angry smoldering fires have been unable to kill

in spite of his will.

He sits fanning ashes from which come no flames

While fantasies from the fifties flow fleetingly down the drain

And yet they all seemed so sane …

Frantically he runs, unrelenting in a race for which

there is no finish line but only those obstacles that fear and mortality

have cast in his path.

Laughter seems so foreign as joy is diminished by pain

To this despairing old man sitting high on the hill

Puffing vainly on his pipe which is inaccessible to the flame

That might burn away the stench and ease the strain

on the malignant old man sitting high on the hill

awaiting the rain.

And while facing the north and in spite of his pain

he silently concedes while pummeled by thunder and rain

that “I never did really know

what time it is …”

Maurice Young has been writing poetry since 1963 when a poem he wrote as a seventh grader lamenting the death of President Kennedy, “Our Captain Is Gone,” won a prize and was published in the Hartford (Connecticut) Courant.