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Poetry - Old Age


W. B. Yeats (1856-1939), When You Are OldPoetry - Old Age 

The Irish poet (pictured right) describes an old person's memories of lost love in front of a fire:


And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

(last verse)


David Rhys Geraint Jones (1922-44), Let Me Not See Old Age (1944) 

Jones , an British army officer, didn't reach old age, sadly dying in Normandy in 1944 only months after he wrote this poem:


Let me not see old age; I am content

With my few crowded years; laughter and strength

And song have lit the beacon of my life.

Let me not see it fade, but when the long

September shadows steal across the square,

Grant me this wish: they may not find me there.

(last verse)



Joyce Grenfell (1910-79), Time Poetry - Old Age

The English poet and entertainer (pictured right) says enjoy your old age by

  • living for today.
  • not regretting the past.
  • not worrying about the future.


But now I'm an old old woman,

So I want the last word:

There is no such thing as time -

Only this very minute

And I'm in it.

Thank the Lord.

(last verse)



William Oldys (1696-1761), On a Fly Drinking Out of a Cup (1732)  Poetry - Old Age

The English poet, pictured right, (threescore or 60 - old for the eighteenth century!) tells a fly to make the most of life because it's short and passes so quickly:


Busy, curious, thirsty fly!

Drink with me and drink as I:

Freely welcome to my cup,

Couldst thou sip and sip it up:

Make the most of life you may,

Life is short and wears away.

Both alike are mine and thine

Hastening quick to their decline:

Thine 's a summer, mine 's no more,

Though repeated to threescore.

Threescore summers, when they're gone,

Will appear as short as one!

(complete poem)


D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Piano (1918) Poetry - Death

The English poet's (pictured right) childhood memories of a piano make him “weep like a child for the past” (last line):


Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;

Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see

A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings

And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.


In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song

Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong

To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside

And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.


So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour

With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour

Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast

Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

(complete poem)


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