Waning unsatisfied, he can not rest,
Can not give up, give in, resign, desist;
Enlisted for long war, will still resist,
Living defeat, will scorn defeat; his best
Is decades back, his place in life a quest
Uncoupled half from hope: stiff clenched old fist,
Shouts,"victory or death!" into the mist!
Not only shan*, the shannochie almost,
Of ancient lore: long-lived Nestor doing time
For siblings who died young. "No end but death!"
Meant not what it means now when he caught breath
At thrilling certainty, and will whose ghost
Stirs vigour in him still, youth-set mime:
And now, as then youth's purposes persist,
And victory or death still echoes in the mist.
"Shan" is "old", the "shannachie" is a traditional Irish story-teller
Charlie Van Gelderen, the last person alive of those who attended the founding Conference of the Fourth International in September 1938, was a Trotskyist for 70 years.He died in 2001