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Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(1772-1834 / Devon / England)

Youth And Age


Verse, a Breeze 'mid blossoms straying,
Where HOPE clung feeding, like a bee--
Both were mine ! Life went a-maying
With NATURE, HOPE, and POESY,
[Image][Image]When I was young !

When I was young ?--Ah, woful WHEN !
Ah ! for the Change 'twixt Now and Then !
This breathing House not built with hands,
This body that does me grievous wrong,
O'er æry Cliffs and glittering Sands,
How lightly then it flashed along :--
Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore,
On winding lakes and rivers wide,
That ask no aid of Sail or Oar,
That fear no spite of Wind or Tide !
Nought cared this Body for wind or weather
When YOUTH and I lived in't together.

FLOWERS are lovely ; LOVE is flower-like ;
FRIENDSHIP is a sheltering tree ;
O ! the Joys, that came down shower-like,
Of FRIENDSHIP, LOVE, and LIBERTY,
[Image] [Image] [Image] [Image] 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 toll'd :--
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.

Dew-drops 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,
[Image][Image]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 dismist ;
Yet hath outstay'd his welcome while,
And tells the jest without the smile.

Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2001

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