Favourite poems: The Return

The Return by Edwin Muir

I see myself sometimes, an old old man

Who has walked so long with time as time’s true servant,

That he’s grown strange to me – who was once myself –

Almost as strange as time, and yet familiar

With old man’s staff and legendary cloak,

For see, it is I, it is I. And I return

So altered, so adopted, to the house

Of my own life. There all the doors stand open

Perpetually, and the rooms ring with sweet voices,

And there my long life’s seasons sound their changes,

Childhood and youth and manhood all together,

And welcome waits, and not a room but is

My own, beloved and longed for. And the voices,

Sweeter than any sound dreamt of or known,

Call me, recall me. I draw near at last,

An old old man, and scan the ancient walls

Rounded and softened by the compassionate years,

The old and heavy and long-leaved trees that watch

This my inheritance in friendly darkness.

And yet I cannot enter, for all within

Rises before me there, rises against me,

A sweet and terrible labyrinth of longing,

So that I turn aside and take the road

That always, early or late, runs on before

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