FACING THE DUTY OF TODAY

“Old age” seems to be a loose concept. Long ago I had a talk with my cousin who was being called up to the army. Mykola (the cousin’s name) was 18 at that time, and he said he would already be “old” after he had done his two-year conscription service. I remember how heartily we, high school students, laughed at the main character in the film “Divorce Italian Style”, who at the very end of the film declared: “Life just only starts at the age of 40.” Marcello Mastroianni, starring in the film, looked far from being young to make such a start. Today I have read the poem “This Day” by Wilhelmina Stitch (1888-1936) and thought that life, in fact, re-starts every day if a person is aflame with desire to do what he/she considers to be important. Here’s the poem:

This day, this day alone, is yours and mine.
Yesterday, with its mistakes and faults, is past.
And of tomorrow there is no certain sign.
Today is ours. Welcome and hold it fast.
We have, each one, a special part to play,
seeming so small to our impatient eyes,
but we must face the duty of to-day—
think you the sun resents that he must rise;
or the moon weary of her ministry ;
or the stars falter on their destined way ;
or the sap fail to vitalize the tree ;
shall we refuse the task that’s ours, To-day?
The moon is beautiful in her bright shining;
the sun majestic in his robe of red.
Hush! they must never hear a human whining!
Too soon, too soon, will this good day have fled.
Stars, sun and moon and the majestic sea,
teach us the spirit of your service, pray!
Then we will face with quiet serenity,
with eager will, with joyous pride—To-day.

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