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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

ON GROWING OLD, by         Recitation     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

John Masefield was a British poet and author who lived from 1878 to 1967. He is known for his poetry that often celebrates the sea and sailors. Masefield was appointed as Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 1930, a position he held until his death. "On Growing Old" was first published in Masefield's 1918 collection of poems, "Salt-Water Ballads."

Content:

"On Growing Old" is a reflection on the inevitable process of aging and the wisdom that comes with it. The poem is written in the first person, with the speaker reflecting on their own experiences of growing older. The first stanza describes the speaker's youthful pursuits, such as running and laughing with friends, and contrasts them with the slower pace of life that comes with age. The second stanza describes the speaker's contemplation of mortality, and the realization that life is short and fleeting. The final stanza offers a sense of acceptance of the inevitability of aging and death, with the speaker expressing gratitude for the memories and experiences of a long life.

Form:

"On Growing Old" is a short poem composed of three stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The poem has a simple rhyme scheme, with the first and third lines of each stanza rhyming with each other, and the second and fourth lines also rhyming with each other. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, with four stressed syllables in each line.

Poetic Elements:

The poem makes use of several literary devices to convey its themes. The first stanza uses vivid imagery to contrast the energy of youth with the slower pace of old age. The second stanza employs the metaphor of the setting sun to evoke a sense of the passage of time and the approach of death. The final stanza uses personification to describe the memories of a long life as "bright companions" that have accompanied the speaker through their journey.

Summary:

"On Growing Old" is a poignant reflection on the universal experience of aging and the acceptance of mortality. The poem's simple form and use of vivid imagery make it accessible to readers of all ages, while its themes of wisdom and gratitude offer a message of hope and perspective. The poem's message is particularly relevant in a world where aging is often stigmatized and youth is idealized. Overall, "On Growing Old" is a timeless and relatable poem that encourages readers to embrace the wisdom that comes with age.


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