Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 3. A SONG OF ONE IN OLD AGE, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 3. A SONG OF ONE IN OLD AGE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Weary and broken, old age, art thou now come upon me?
Last Line: Only perpetual joy.
Subject(s): Old Age; Weariness; Fatigue


WEARY and broken, old age, art thou now come upon me?
My faculties drying up like pools of water in summer,
My body dying, my brain rusting, my heart-beat dull and torpid—
Falling off like a dead leaf from the tree, unheeded, useless—
Is this old age then? lonely, ah! how lonely!

The world hurries by so light and glad and joyous—each man following
his call: but I without any;
The spring returns with the budding leaves on the beech so fresh, and the
virgin grass, and the foals and young calves in the fields: as it has returned
so oft before; but I am old and must die—there is no place for me any
longer;
At night in dreams the faces return to me—the faces that I loved, ah!
dearest faces!—but when I wake the world is changed, all changed: there is
no place for them any longer, but strangers are around me.
How should love come to me—what is there that any one should seek me?
Who will pause for the empty husk of a man, and shall I be a supplicant for
pity?
How could I ever have guessed when I was young that this would come upon
me—and yet it has come upon me, as it has come upon so many millions
before?
To die—that is it. This at last is what I have so often counted
on—to die, to be effaced, to be made of no account—and now it is
forced upon me whether I will or no.
O Death, I shall conquer thee yet.
Didst thou think to terrify me?—but lo! was I not dead before thou
camest?
Long long years ago did I not abandon this frail tenement, all but in
name?—was not my last furniture packed up and ready to be transported?
The virgin grass received me, and the beech trees so ten derly green in
spring, and the bodies of my lovers that I loved:
They became my dwelling, and I forgot that I existed.
I passed freely and floated on the ocean of which before I had only been
part of the shore,
I took up my refuge beyond the limits where thou couldst come.

Yet now once more confined,
Here in this prison cell while the walls grow thicker—of all I was a
little spark waits yet its liberation.
Come quickly, Death, and loose this last remainder of me—shatter the
walls,
Break down this body of mine, and let me go.
Or else,
In patience let me wait seeing fulfilled
That which I sought so long—to be effaced.
Hidden I wait—this old husk suits me well—for who will guess the
likeness of me through it?
This is my invisible cap wherein I'll ramble yet through many byways of
sweet human life.
And thou too, stranger, shalt pity me if thou wilt, and I will accept thy
pity gratefully—
Yet after all perhaps the best gift of the two
I'll give to thee.

Old age, old age?—No! only there outside.
Here where I am 'tis everlasting youth.
This is where the virgin grass springs from, I see, and the loves that
clothe the frame of humanity,
Out of this old shell passing I begin again—there is no death here,
there can be no death,
Only perpetual joy.





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