Time Eating


Ravenous Time has flowers for his food
at Autumn–yet can cleverly make good
each petal: devours animals and men,
but for ten dead he can create ten.

If you enquire how secretly you've come
to mansize from the bigness of a stone
it will appear it's his art made you rise
so gradually to your proper size.

But while he makes he eats: the very part
where he began, even the elusive heart
Time's ruminative tongue will wash
and slow juice masticate all flesh.

That volatile huge intestine holds
material and abstract in its folds:
thought and ambition melt, and even the world
will alter, in that catholic belly curled.

But Time, who ate my love, you cannot make
such another. You who can remake
the lizard's tail and bright snakeskin
cannot, cannot. That you gobbled in
too quick: and though you brought me from a boy
you can make no more of me, only destroy.


Keith Douglas, The Complete Poems, Faber and Faber, 2000.