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Prisoners of Time

Words and music copyright ©the last day of the Twentieth Century
by Blake Hodgetts

And so we've reached the thirty-first December
     and yet another year has passed us by
          Singing "Auld Lang Syne"
          while we raise a toast of wine
     and we kiss and cheer and laugh and sometimes cry

At times like this I can't help but remember
     those gone but not forgotten days of yore
          when we went our way
          thinking only of today
     oblivious of futures laid in hyperspatial store

Yesterday's tomorrow is tomorrow's bygone day
Wand'ring in the darkness, we shall never see our way

What is time,
     we cry
          Are we doomed to wander on
               through this everbranching tapestry
               and never see
the reason or the rhyme?
     We fly,
          ever onward toward the dawn
and there are no second chances
and we cannot press "rewind"
and we're all eternal prisoners of time

Had I a single wish I would erase time
     and freshen flowers since begun to fade
          Return to days
          long since vanished in the haze
     when unfortunate mistakes were still unmade

but the "I" who's retrotemporal in spacetime
     along the axis t, as time is cast
          is compelled to run
          just the same as I have done
     toward his future, which was always my irrevocable past

We cannot stray an ångström from our post-predestined course
Thus hadivist, thus hindsight, thus regret, and thus remorse


For every bold decision that we render
     a multitude of might-have-beens are spawned
          and with every cleft,
          to the right and to the left
     there's a universe of choices just beyond

At the quantum level too, we're forced to wonder
     at uncertainties at work within our brain
          Though we do our best,
          and of free-will we're possessed,
     still we can't but choose a future from a multi-threaded skein

And so tomorrow's yesterday is still today's today,
Though the game may well be fixed, still we must gamely field the play,


So here we are, a-pinioned on the new year
     as always, on the cusp of "now" and "then"
          Any act we do,
          any path we may pursue
     will appear for our review, somewhere, somewhen

And if we've had a singularly blue year
     and view the coming worldline with dismay
          we must face at last
          that the past remains the past
     and the footprints left upon the sands of time are there to stay

No good can come from dwelling on the path we didn't take;
The best that we can hope for is to learn from each mistake --


No, there are no second chances
and we can't undance the dances
for we're all eternal prisoners of time

: an obsolete (16th-century) word meaning "if I had known".