Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"Not the blaze of noon...."

“...inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.”
― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures

In spite of current concerns, I don't often actually feel "old". Maybe I should.

Some words on old age from a favourite poet: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: last two verses of Morituri Salutamus (See full poem here)

As the barometer foretells the storm
While still the skies are clear, the weather warm,
So something in us, as old age draws near,
Betrays the pressure of the atmosphere.
The nimble mercury, ere we are aware,
Descends the elastic ladder of the air;
The telltale blood in artery and vein
Sinks from its higher levels in the brain;
Whatever poet, orator, or sage
May say of it, old age is still old age.
It is the waning, not the crescent moon;
The dusk of evening, not the blaze of noon;
It is not strength, but weakness; not desire,
But its surcease; not the fierce heat of fire,
The burning and consuming element,
But that of ashes and of embers spent,
In which some living sparks we still discern,
Enough to warm, but not enough to burn.

What then? Shall we sit idly down and say
The night hath come; it is no longer day?
The night hath not yet come; we are not quite
Cut off from labor by the failing light;
Something remains for us to do or dare;
Even the oldest tree some fruit may bear;
Not Oedipus Coloneus, or Greek Ode,
Or tales of pilgrims that one morning rode
Out of the gateway of the Tabard Inn,
But other something, would we but begin;
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

Gotta love that last line!


Wisewebwoman said...

I've never known an old person to say they feel old. I think it is a false concept, much like ageism itself - something to be feared and most of all denied and intervened with botox and creams and lifts and tucks. I've lost 2 friends due to interventions. We don't talk about that.

When we're young we don't "feel young".

It's the way it is. Similar to when we are elders, revered in too few countries now. Tossed on the scrap heap by many as irrelevant.

They say the secret is not to warehouse ourselves but befriend those who are far younger. I am lucky as I am with those who are young some of the time.

We are wise, T, in an age where wisdom doesn't seem a desirable quality that can only be acquired through aging.



Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ You're right, WWW. Yep, it's the way it is. We're old in years and in experiencing bits wearing out or weakening, but unless we are very unfortunate, our minds remain, well..."just us" - the "us" developed over time, which might have become more - or less - polished and expanded, but in essence hasn't radically changed.