Poetry and Aging

I turned one year older recently, and I’ve been getting into more poetry as of late (a combination of reading and then immediately looking up a solid analysis to steer me in the right direction), and with that being said, I did some research on poems about age and getting older, and found out that most of them are pretty bitter or sad, but I did find a few poems that were a bit more…well, optimistic. So, without further ado, here are a few poems about aging that I enjoyed, and a few I think you will enjoy, too:

“Life is Fine” by Langston Hughes

I went down to the river,
I set down on the bank.
I tried to think but couldn’t,
So I jumped in and sank.
I came up once and hollered!
I came up twice and cried!
If that water hadn’t a-been so cold
I might’ve sunk and died.

But it was Cold in that water! It was cold!

I took the elevator
Sixteen floors above the ground.
I thought about my baby
And thought I would jump down.
I stood there and I hollered!
I stood there and I cried!
If it hadn’t a-been so high
I might’ve jumped and died.

But it was High up there! It was high!

So since I’m still here livin’,
I guess I will live on.
I could’ve died for love—
But for livin’ I was born
Though you may hear me holler,
And you may see me cry—
I’ll be dogged, sweet baby,
If you gonna see me die.

Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!

“Written in a Carefree Mood” by Lu Yu

Old man pushing seventy,
in truth he acts like a little boy,
whooping with delight when he spies some mountain fruits,
laughing with joy, tagging after village mummers;
with the others having fun stacking tiles to make a pagoda,
standing alone staring at his image in the jardiniere pool.
Tucked under his arm, a battered book to read,
just like the time he first set off for school.

“When You Are Old: by William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look,
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Works Cited

Poets.org
Poetrychina.net
Poetryfoundation.org