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Famous Old Age Poems by Famous Poets

These are examples of famous Old Age poems written by some of the greatest and most-well-known modern and classical poets. PoetrySoup is a great educational poetry resource of famous old age poems. These examples illustrate what a famous old age poem looks like and its form, scheme, or style (where appropriate).

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by Wilmot, John
...rtake the escaping light;
The vapour dances, in his dancing sight,
Till spent, it leaves him to eternal night.
Then old age and experience, hand in hand,
Lead him to death, make him to understand,
After a search so painful, and so long,
That all his life he has been in the wrong:

Huddled In dirt the reasoning engine lies,
Who was so proud, so witty, and so wise.
Pride drew him in, as cheats their bubbles catch,
And made him venture; to be made a wretch.
His wisdo...Read More

by Sexton, Anne
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you'll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you'll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out....Read More

by Carver, Raymond
...on envelopes.
Fear they'll die before I do, and I'll feel guilty.
Fear of having to live with my mother in her old age, and mine.
Fear of confusion.
Fear this day will end on an unhappy note.
Fear of waking up to find you gone.
Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.
Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love.
Fear of death.
Fear of living too long.
Fear of death.

I've said that....Read More

by Homer,
...But now, since you are come here, you shall have what I can bestow: and nurse me this child whom the gods gave me in my old age and beyond my hope, a son much prayed for. If you should bring him up until he reach the full measure of youth, any one of woman-kind that sees you will straightway envy you, so great reward would I give for his upbringing."

Then rich-haired Demeter answered her: "And to you, also, lady, all hail, and may the gods give you good! Gladly wil...Read More

by Gibran, Kahlil
...ey! The source of insincere love; the spring of false light and fortune; the well of poisoned water; the desperation of old age! 

I was still wandering in the vast desert of contemplation when a forlorn and specter-like couple passed by me and sat on the grass; a young man and a young woman who had left their farming shacks in the nearby fields for this cool and solitary place. 

After a few moments of complete silence, I heard the following words uttered with sighs from...Read More

by Keats, John
...hes and the trodden weed; 
Thou silent form! dost tease us out of thought 
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! 45 
When old age shall this generation waste  
Thou shalt remain in midst of other woe 
Than ours a friend to man to whom thou say'st  
'Beauty is truth truth beauty ¡ªthat is all 
Ye know on earth and all ye need to know.' 50 ...Read More

by Milton, John
...ipe fruit, thou drop 
Into thy mother's lap; or be with ease 
Gathered, nor harshly plucked; for death mature: 
This is Old Age; but then, thou must outlive 
Thy youth, thy strength, thy beauty; which will change 
To withered, weak, and gray; thy senses then, 
Obtuse, all taste of pleasure must forego, 
To what thou hast; and, for the air of youth, 
Hopeful and cheerful, in thy blood will reign 
A melancholy damp of cold and dry 
To weigh thy spirits down, and last consume 
T...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...awoman of China! you Tartar of Tartary! 
You women of the earth subordinated at your tasks! 
You Jew journeying in your old age through every risk, to stand once on Syrian ground!
You other Jews waiting in all lands for your Messiah! 
You thoughtful Armenian, pondering by some stream of the Euphrates! you peering amid the
 Nineveh! you ascending Mount Ararat! 
You foot-worn pilgrim welcoming the far-away sparkle of the minarets of Mecca! 
You sheiks along the stret...Read More

by Milton, John
...clustring down,
Vain monument of strength; till length of years 
And sedentary numness craze my limbs
To a contemptible old age obscure.
Here rather let me drudge and earn my bread,
Till vermin or the draff of servil food
Consume me, and oft-invocated death
Hast'n the welcom end of all my pains.

Man. Wilt thou then serve the Philistines with that gift
Which was expresly giv'n thee to annoy them?
Better at home lie bed-rid, not only idle,
Inglorious, unimploy'd, w...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
...of the seasons, 
In the hilarity of youth, 
In the strength and flush of manhood, 
In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age,
In the superb vistas of Death. 

Wonderful to depart; 
Wonderful to be here! 
The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood! 
To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand! 
To prepare for sleep, for bed—to look on my rose-color’d flesh; 
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large; 
To be this ...Read More

by Whitman, Walt
Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsurpass’d, content,
Journeyers with their own sublime old age of manhood or womanhood, 
Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe, 
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death. 

Allons! to that which is endless, as it was beginningless, 
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights t...Read More

by Stevens, Wallace
...slap and sigh, 
36 Polyphony beyond his baton's thrust. 

37 Could Crispin stem verboseness in the sea, 
38 The old age of a watery realist, 
39 Triton, dissolved in shifting diaphanes 
40 Of blue and green? A wordy, watery age 
41 That whispered to the sun's compassion, made 
42 A convocation, nightly, of the sea-stars, 
43 And on the cropping foot-ways of the moon 
44 Lay grovelling. Triton incomplicate with that 
45 Which made him Triton, nothing left of...Read More

by Masefield, John, then, why life should be, 
And what would be the end of me 
When youth and health and strength were gone 
And cold old age came creeping on? 
A keeper's gun? The Union ward? 
Or that new quod at Hereford? 
And looking round I felt disgust 
At all the nights of drink and lust, 
And all the looks of all the swine 
Who'd said that they were friends of mine; 
And yet I knew, when morning came, 
The morning would be just the same, 
for I'd have drinks and Jane would meet me 
...Read More

by Browning, Robert
...ater still,
``When the blue breast of the dipping coot
``Dives under, and all is mute.
``So, at the last shall come old age,
``Decrepit as befits that stage;
``How else wouldst thou retire apart
``With the hoarded memories of thy heart,
``And gather all to the very least
``Of the fragments of life's earlier feast,
``Let fall through eagerness to find
``The crowning dainties yet behind?
``Ponder on the entire past
``Laid together thus at last,
``When the twilight helps to ...Read More

by Bradstreet, Anne
...e, which was his charm.
1.41 And last of all, to act upon this Stage,
1.42 Leaning upon his staff, comes up old age.
1.43 Under his arm a Sheaf of wheat he bore,
1.44 A Harvest of the best: what needs he more?
1.45 In's other hand a glass, ev'n almost run,
1.46 This writ about: This out, then I am done.
1.47 His hoary hairs and grave aspect made way,
1.48 And all gave ear to what he had to say.
1.49 These being met, each in ...Read More

by Pope, Alexander
Behold the first in Virtue, as in Face!
Oh! if to dance all Night, and dress all Day,
Charm'd the Small-pox, or chas'd old Age away;
Who would not scorn what Huswife's Cares produce,
Or who would learn one earthly Thing of Use?
To patch, nay ogle, might become a Saint,
Nor could it sure be such a Sin to paint.
But since, alas! frail Beauty must decay,
Curl'd or uncurl'd, since Locks will turn to grey,
Since paint'd, or not paint'd, all shall fade,
And she who scorns a Ma...Read More

by Shelley, Percy Bysshe
...of the multitude, yet so
Was borne amid the crowd as through the sky
One of the million leaves of summer's bier.--
Old age & youth, manhood & infancy,
Mixed in one mighty torrent did appear,
Some flying from the thing they feared & some
Seeking the object of another's fear,
And others as with steps towards the tomb
Pored on the trodden worms that crawled beneath,
And others mournfully within the gloom
Of their own shadow walked, and called it death ...
And so...Read More

by Shelley, Percy Bysshe
...two lovers linked innocently
In their loose locks which over both did creep
Like ivy from one stem; and there lay calm
Old age with snow-bright hair and folded palm.

But other troubled forms of sleep she saw,
Not to be mirrored in a holy song,--
Distortions foul of supernatural awe,
And pale imaginings of visioned wrong,
And all the code of Custom's lawless law
Written upon the brows of old and young.
"This," said the Wizard Maiden, "is the strife
Which stirs the li...Read More

by Arnold, Matthew most shamed him. But be his

My special thanks, whose even-balanced soul,
 From first youth tested up to extreme old age,
Business could not make dull, nor passion wild;

Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole;
The mellow glory of the Attic stage,
Singer of sweet Colonus, and its child....Read More

by Trumbull, John
Above the loveliest earthly toast;
And so, like them, in early dawn
Resolved its picture should be drawn,
That when old age with length'ning day
Should brush the vivid rose away,
The world should from the portrait own
Beyond all clouds how bright it shone.

Hard by, a painter raised his stage,
Far famed, the Copley[1] of his age.
So just a form his colours drew,
Each eye the perfect semblance knew;
Yet still on every blooming face
He pour'd the pencil's flowing g...Read More

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