Monday, February 8, 2016

Growing Old by Matthew Arnold
 what we all are, ultimately, sadly.


By Matthew Arnold

What 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.

I am currently reading "Deepstep Come Shining" by C. D. Wright, a most excellent book.

1 comment:

erin said...

i go looking for one jack gilbert to converse with the poem you posted and i happen upon another excerpt,

"What if the heart does not pale as the body wanes
but is like the sun that blazes hotter each day
on these immense, perishing fields? What then?"

i can only hope your surgery (s) go well and you have a quick recovery, marion.

currently i am overcome... we have just finished watching the documentary "The Look of Silence" in which the genocide of a million Indonesians is highlighted. the father of a victim is introduced while his wife bathes him. that he is still alive is astonishing. how thin and frail he is. and yet a heart beats and there is warmth. and even singing.