One fleeting moment as the sun is setting,
One gentle moment as the night falls fast,
To bring to mind the things that are forgotten,
Now scattered in the dust of ages past.
Like white-foamed waves that break on lonely beaches,
Like the wind’s song where no one hears the wind,
They beckon us, I know, but to no purpose –
The old forgotten things of humankind.
The artistry and skills of early peoples,
Small dwelling-places and enormous halls,
Old well-told tales that have been lost for ages,
The gods that now no mortal could recall.
And little words of languages long-vanished,
Lithe words once lively on the lips of men,
And pretty in the prattle of small children,
No tongue will ever utter them again.
Oh, earth’s innumerable generations,
Their sacred dreams and fragile sanctity,
Is the heart silent that was once acquainted
With sadness and with gladness and with glee ?
Often at close of day, when I am lonely,
I long to know you all, bring all to mind;
Is there a heart or memory still to cherish
The old forgotten things of humankind?
By Waldo Williams
Translation by Alan Llwyd