Growing Old


growing_oldWhat is it to grow old? 

Is it to lose the glory of the form, 

The luster of the eye? 

Is it for beauty to forego her wreath? 

—Yes, but not this alone. 
Is it to feel our strength— 

Not our bloom only, but our strength—decay? 

Is it to feel each limb 

Grow stiffer, every function less exact, 

Each nerve more loosely strung? 
Yes, this, and more; but not 

Ah, ’tis not what in youth we dreamed ’twould be! 

’Tis not to have our life 

Mellowed and softened as with sunset glow, 

A golden day’s decline. 
’Tis not to see the world 

As from a height, with rapt prophetic eyes, 

And heart profoundly stirred; 

And weep, and feel the fullness of the past, 

The years that are no more. 
It is to spend long days 

And not once feel that we were ever young; 

It is to add, immured 

In the hot prison of the present, month 

To month with weary pain. 
It is to suffer this, 

And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel. 

Deep in our hidden heart 

Festers the dull remembrance of a change, 

But no emotion—none. 
It is—last stage of all— 

When we are frozen up within, and quite 

The phantom of ourselves, 

To hear the world applaud the hollow ghost 

Which blamed the living man. 


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