January 31 is always a day that makes me a little sad. And, as usual, I celebrate with a poem about getting older. When You Are Old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
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.
-- BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
Happy Birthday, Alice. ***
To grow old is to lose everything. Aging, everybody knows it. Even when we are young, we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads when a grandfather dies. Then we row for years on the midsummer pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage, that began without harm, scatters into debris on the shore, and a friend from school drops cold on a rocky strand. If a new love carries us past middle age, our wife will die at her strongest and most beautiful. New women come and go. All go. The pretty lover who announces that she is temporary is temporary. The bold woman, middle-aged against our old age, sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand. Another friend of decades estranges himself in words that pollute thirty years. Let us stifle under mud at the pond's edge and affirm that it is fitting and delicious to lose everything.
-- Donald Hall
(Inspired by a recent run in a thunderstorm) Storm Running
It’s pouring rain I need to run Thunder roars This will be fun!
I tie my shoes Throw open the door The wind blows hard I want more!
After a mile I’m soaking wet Lightening flashes But hasn’t hit me yet!
Halfway through It starts to hail I pick up the pace I will not fail!
The storm grows worse The sky’s pitch black Bring it on I won’t turn back!
I pump my fist I finish the run The storm has lost And I have won!
Storm running is fun I’ll never quit Unless by lightening I get hit!
Growing Old, a poem by Matthew Arnold, is running through my head today.
Oh, and Happy Birthday, Alice.
What is it to grow old? Is it to lose the glory of the form, The lustre of the eye? Is it for beauty to forego her wreath? Yes, but not for 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 weakly 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 fulness 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.