Youth and Age

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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, 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, 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, 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.