The Old

Oh bear with me, for I am old
And count on fingers five
The years this pencil I may hold
And hope to be alive;
How sadly soon our dreaming ends!
How brief the sunset glow!
Be kindly to the old, my friends:
You'll miss them when they go.

I've seen so many disappear
That I can scarce forget,
For death has made them doubly dear
And ripened my regret.
How wistfully I've wished them back,
With cherishing to show
The gentleness I used to lack
In years of long ago.

You, young and fit, will falter too,
And when Time's load you bear,
'Twill help if others turn to you
With comforting and car;
With loving look and tender touch . . .
Aye, in their twilight wan
Revere the old - for Oh how much
You'll miss them when they've gone!

by Robert William Service

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