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- The Home Book of Verse, Volume 1 - 100/114 -

Of Friendship, Love, and Liberty Ere I was old!

Ere I was old? Ah, woful Ere, Which tells me, Youth's no longer here! O Youth! for years so many and sweet, 'Tis known that Thou and I were one. I'll think it but a fond conceit - It cannot be that Thou art gone! Thy vesper-bell hath not yet tolled: - And thou wert aye a masker bold! What strange disguise hast now put on To make believe that thou art gone? I see these locks in silvery slips, This drooping gait, this altered size: But Springtide blossoms on thy lips, And tears take sunshine from thine eyes! Life is but thought: so think I will That Youth and I are house-mates still.

Dewdrops are the gems of morning, But the tears of mournful eve! Where no hope is, life's a warning That only serves to make us grieve When we are old:

That only serves to make us grieve With oft and tedious taking-leave, Like some poor nigh-related guest, That may not rudely be dismissed, Yet hath outstayed his welcome while, And tells the jest without the smile.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge [1772-1834]


"You are old, Father William," the young man cried; "The few locks which are left you are gray; You are hale, Father William, - a hearty old man: Now tell me the reason, I pray."

"In the days of my youth," Father William replied, "I remembered that youth would fly fast, And abused not my health and my vigor at first, That I never might need them at last."

"You are old, Father William," the young man cried, "And pleasures with youth pass away; And yet you lament not the days that are gone: Now tell me the reason, I pray."

"In the days of my youth," Father William replied, "I remembered that youth could not last; I thought of the future, whatever I did, That I never might grieve for the past."

"You are old, Father William," the young man cried, "And life must be hastening away; You are cheerful, and love to converse upon death: Now tell me the reason, I pray."

"I am cheerful, young man," Father William replied; "Let the cause thy attention engage; In the days of my youth, I remembered my God, And He hath not forgotten my age."

Robert Southey [1774-1843]


Welcome, old friend! These many years Have we lived door by door: The Fates have laid aside their shears Perhaps for some few more.

I was indocile at an age When better boys were taught, But thou at length hast made me sage, If I am sage in aught.

Little I know from other men, Too little they from me, But thou hast pointed well the pen That writes these lines to thee.

Thanks for expelling Fear and Hope, One vile, the other vain; One's scourge, the other's telescope, I shall not see again:

Rather what lies before my feet My notice shall engage. - He who hath braved Youth's dizzy heat Dreads not the frost of Age.

Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]


The leaves are falling; so am I; The few late flowers have moisture in the eye; So have I too. Scarcely on any bough is heard Joyous, or even unjoyous, bird The whole wood through.

Winter may come: he brings but nigher His circle (yearly narrowing) to the fire Where old friends meet. Let him; now heaven is overcast, And spring and summer both are past, And all things sweet.

Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]


Years, many parti-colored years, Some have crept on, and some have flown Since first before me fell those tears I never could see fall alone.

Years, not so many, are to come, Years not so varied, when from you One more will fall: when, carried home, I see it not, nor hear Adieu.

Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]


The more we live, more brief appear Our life's succeeding stages: A day to childhood seems a year, And years like passing ages.

The gladsome current of our youth, Ere passion yet disorders, Steals, lingering like a river smooth Along its grassy borders.

But as the careworn cheek grows wan, And sorrow's shafts fly thicker, Ye Stars, that measure life to man, Why seem your courses quicker?

When joys have lost their bloom and breath, And life itself is vapid, Why, as we reach the Falls of Death, Feel we its tide more rapid?

It may be strange - yet who would change Time's course to slower speeding, When one by one our friends have gone And left our bosoms bleeding?

Heaven gives our years of fading strength Indemnifying fleetness; And those of youth, a seeming length, Proportioned to their sweetness.

Thomas Campbell [1777-1844]


Long time a child, and still a child, when years Had painted manhood on my check, was I, - For yet I lived like one not born to die; A thriftless prodigal of smiles and tears, No hope I needed, and I knew no fears. But sleep, though sweet, is only sleep; and waking, I waked to sleep no more; at once o'ertaking The vanguard of my age, with all arrears Of duty on my back. Nor child, nor man, Nor youth, nor sage, I find my head is gray, For I have lost the race I never ran: A rathe December blights my lagging May; And still I am a child, though I be old: Time is my debtor for my years untold.

Hartley Coleridge [1796-1849]


Few, in the days of early youth, Trusted like me in love and truth. I've learned sad lessons from the years; But slowly, and with many tears; For God made me to kindly view The world that I was passing through.

The Home Book of Verse, Volume 1 - 100/114

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