There are few of us now, soon There will be none. We were comrades Together, we believed we Would see with our own eyes the new World where man was no longer Wolf to man, but men and women Were all brothers and lovers Together. We will not see it. We will not see it, none of us. It is farther off than we thought. In our young days we believed That as we grew old and fell Out of rank, new recruits, young And with the wisdom of youth, Would take our places and they Surely would grow old in the Golden Age. They have not come. They will not come. There are not Many of us left. Once we Marched in closed ranks, today each Of us fights off the enemy, A lonely isolated guerrilla. All this has happened before, Many times. It does not matter. We were comrades together. Life was good for us. It is Good to be brave — nothing is Better. Food tastes better. Wine Is more brilliant. Girls are more Beautiful. The sky is bluer For the brave — for the brave and Happy comrades and for the Lonely brave retreating warriors. You had a good life. Even all Its sorrows and defeats and Disillusionments were good, Met with courage and a gay heart. You are gone and we are that Much more alone. We are one fewer, Soon we shall be none. We know now We have failed for a long time. And we do not care. We few will Remember as long as we can, Our children may remember, Some day the world will remember. Then they will say, “They lived in The days of the good comrades. It must have been wonderful To have been alive then, though it Is very beautiful now.” We will be remembered, all Of us, always, by all men, In the good days now so far away. If the good days never come, We will not know. We will not care. Our lives were the best. We were the Happiest men alive in our day.
“For Eli Jacobson” is from The Collected Shorter Poems by Kenneth Rexroth. Copyright © 1956 by Kenneth Rexroth. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.