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The unvoiced score that wins a tennis game.
In yards, the shortest race that runners dash.
Said twice, a chance that equals lose or win.
The age when politicians grow mature.
On fifty-minute hours Freud built his fame.
Just fifty years ago the market crash
wiped out an Old Deal, saw a New begin.
From fifty states, one union may endure.
Leonardo sought a certain smiling dame
at fifty; Marx turned Capital to cash
at fifty; Darwin launched his Origin,
and Dante's epic moved from damned to pure.
Your fiftieth, semicentenary man --
Enjoy it! It will never come again.
[Written in 1979; first published here in 2000.]
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