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Growing Old
by Matthew Arnold

English poet and critic. His first two volumes of poems The Strayed Reveller and other Poems (1849) and Empedocles on Etna and other Poems (1852) were published anonymously and with little success. He made his mark with his third volume of poetry Poems: A New Edition (1853-54) which contained 'The Scholar Gipsy', 'Sohrab and Rustum', and 'Memorial Verses to Wordsworth'. He reinforced his standing as a poet with New Poems (1867) which included 'Dover Beach' and 'Thyrsis'. He established himself as the leading critic of the age with a number of works including Essays and Criticism (1865, 1888), Culture and Anarchy (1869) and Literature and Dogma (1873).


Growing Old
by Matthew Arnold

What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
Yes, but not for this alone.

Is it to feel our strength -
Not our bloom only, but our strength -decay?
Is it to feel each limb
Grow stiffer, every function less exact,
Each nerve more weakly strung?

Yes, this, and more! but not,
Ah, 'tis not what in youth we dreamed 'twould be!
'Tis not to have our life
Mellowed and softened as with sunset-glow,
A golden day's decline!

'Tis not to see the world
As from a height, with rapt prophetic eyes,
And heart profoundly stirred;
And weep, and feel the fulness of the past,
The years that are no more!

It is to spend long days
And not once feel that we were ever young.
It is to add, immured
In the hot prison of the present, month
To month with weary pain.

It is to suffer this,
And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel:
Deep in our hidden heart
Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
But no emotion -none.

It is -last stage of all -
When we are frozen up within, and quite
The phantom of ourselves,
To hear the world applaud the hollow ghost
Which blamed the living man.


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