Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A MAN OF FORTY, by WILLIAM STEWARD GORDON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A MAN OF FORTY, by            
First Line: I stood in childhood's narrow vale
Last Line: On one of forty.
Subject(s): Aging; Children; Maturity; Childhood

I stood in childhood's narrow vale
And viewed the steep and sinuous trail
That like a serpent seemed to climb
O'er hazy heights and peaks sublime
Until the pinnacle it passed—
The Mount of Middle Life at last—
The age of forty.

And with a halo o'er his head,
A victor o'er the summit sped
All glorious in life's noonday sun,
Adorned with stars and medals won,
While rainbow-tinted on a cloud
This legend seemed to shout aloud:
"A man of forty!"

So far it seemed to boyhood's eye,
That gilded summit in the sky!
Could I e'er live so long, and wait
That outpost of the Golden Gate?
I sighed and ran and longed to be
As grand as father seemed to me—
A man of forty.

But I awake this morn to find
I've passed that milepost of the mind,
And stand amazed that I am still
Much as I was below the hill—
The long-tailed coat and bearded chin
Do only hide the boy within
The man of forty.

Some childish things we put away,
But more cling to us when we're gray.
How much of wisdom yet ungained!
Like ant-hills are the heights attained!
Life's mountain peaks are still uncrowned—
The rainbow tints are still beyond
This man of forty.

Though owlish Oslers view their slain,
Ambition lives and tugs his chain;
Hope gathers up the broken stran'
To weave the fabric of a man—
Though seamed and soiled the garment be,
God yet can work a mystery
On one of forty.

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