Growing Old

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.

by Matthew Arnold

Other poems of ARNOLD (62)

Comments (18)

It is -last stage of all - When we are frozen up within, and quite The phantom of ourselves.... // I too am passing the same stage. So, I can feel the veracity of what has been said. Thanks.
Inspiring poem. Fighting is a spirit. To fight till the end is something we look for in life
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. poem is nice thank you
*face Palm* for a poetry forum, these comments are pretty ridiculous. First of all, Matthew arnold was one of the most well known and respected artists from the 1800's. So for those giving Matthew criticism and advice for his next poems..... Well, that's of no use since he's dead for over 100 years. Secondly, Mr Arnold was very concerned about the cultural and social aspect of the day. As such, he began writing poems with cultural messages. This was called sage writing. Wikipedia states, Matthew Arnold has been characterised as a sage writer, a type of writer who chastises and instructs the reader on contemporary social issues. That being said, this poem DOES accurately portray the mindset of many elderly people who have been essentially forgotten. Notice he doesn't mention family, etc until the very end.... the voice of the poem is implying that in old age, the worst thing want growing old and losing beauty and strength, but being alone, a burden, uncared for, forgotten, etc. Until your time comes, then bam.... there's all those pdople around you again.... finally there but when it's too late. Think of many elderly people who are thrown in 3rd rate nursing homes with no visitors and without a single show of love. Don't you think most of them would echo these thoughts in th poem? Arnold's point wasn't pity for himself but a social commentary on his culture at the time. He was giving a voice to those who didn't have one. To be frank, even if that hasn't been his intention, the poem was written so well & so disturbingly unforgettable that it is a piece of art even as the standpoint of one person. For each life and death is different. Though many of his poems did have a distinctly melancholic feel and serious tones, it was in direct contrast to the quiet who was lively, mischievous fun and very content. The type of poetry he produced was very popular in the Victorian era. Perhaps because he was so lighthearted and gay, he might have used his writings to discuss the problems in society which bothered him...because despite his carefree attitude, he was a man of convictions. He is one of my favorites poets of the Victorian era because he had a way of writing things that left you slightly unsettled, a bit haunted, and therefore unforgettable. But at the same time, very beautiful! Perhaps his most famous poem ever is one you'll recognize. Reading it, perhaps you will see him in a different light and appreciate the beauty of his carefully chosen words. It starts like this... Come to me in my dreams, and then By day I shall be well again! For so the night will more than pay The hopeless longing of the day. Never posted on here before and don't plan to again, but I just couldn't let this one slide. :) Cheers! xx PS... sorry for all the typos- it's very late and I'm on my mobile, so a bit difficult to type.
Not recommend if you have had a bad day - could push you over the edge!
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