for Gertrud Widmayer, my landlady at Heidelberg
Why in pensive ticking, silent thoughts
You wile your time away
When all around huge swelling bells
Toll the days away!
Every hour that announced may go
Your silent hands take hold
And though the ages chimed in ears
Yours they never behold.
If all the clocks the world had known
Had struck one strong big note,
They would never still your plodding tone
Nor the working hearth you alert.
Do you wonder, wonder, little clock
What makes the grandfather tick!
Or his aching belly in the depth of sorrow
Cries to the world it's sick!
Thirty million years and Pleistocene dark,
They are one split second short!
And whimpering suns that rise and flop
Have scarce stolen your tick or thought!
So, my little clock, my faithful clock
When I hear the tall town bell,
I'll shrug my shoulders, one tiny moment
And know that all is well.
T. Wignesan, 1957 (from the collection: Tracks of a Tramp. Kuala Lumpur-Singapore: 1961)