What’s it like, to grow old? Matthew Arnold’s poem is about those uncertainties that only live holds. This is his poem Growing old.
About the poet
Matthew Arnold (1822 – 1888) was the first Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. You can read more about his life in his biography
About the poem
This poem is magnificent. It tells us the thoughts of someone, who wants to know, but doesn’t. It is the opening line, that says it all: what is it to grow old? Is it about loosing your beauty? Or is it the lack of strength? Is this something that will get under your skin? All those questions. Then the poet tries to come up with the answers. But there is so much uncertainty.
A beautiful poem, that is part of the legacy of a great poet; Matthew Arnold.
What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The luster of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
—Yes, but not 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 loosely 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 fullness 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.
How about you?
Everyone thinks about growing old. Growing old, is part of our lives. This happen, no matter what. How about you? Have you turned your thoughts into poetry? Submit your poem today!