I am of old and young—a child as well as a man—
I, a child, very old,
A traveler of thoughts and years,
Of youth long sped and middle age declining.
What is this flooding me, childhood or manhood?
There was never any more youth or age than there is now.
I have been musing over my life—connecting events, dates, as links of a chain,
Years looking backward resuming, in answer to children, my life and recitative, containing birth, youth, mid-age years.
Myself through every bygone phase—
Through my idle youth and through middle age—O manhood, balanced, florid and full—and old age at hand,
As the first volume of a tale perused and laid away, and this the second,
Songs, ventures, speculations, presently to close;
From ups and downs—with intervals—from elder years, mid-age, or youth, how unfaltering, how affectionate and faithful.
An old man bending I come among new faces,
Journeyers as with companions, namely their own diverse phases,
Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days,
Journeyers gayly with their own youth,
Journeyers with their bearded and well-grain’d manhood,
Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsurpass’d, content,
Journeyers with their own sublime old age of manhood or womanhood.
You natural persons old and young!
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
With the fascinations of youth and the equal fascinations of age, each has his care:
The young man’s ills are pride, desire, and heart-sickness,
And in his breast, the heat of passion’s fire;
Old age fears death.
You lusty and graceful youth! You are great;
You are not exclusively great in youth,
Your middle age shall be great with amplitude and steadiness and full-blooded strength—
Between the years of forty and sixty a man who has properly regulated himself may be considered in the prime of life.
Your old age shall be equally great with majesty and bloom and fascination and love—the love of young and old.
Good in all,
In the hilarity of youth,
In the strength and flush of manhood,
In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age.
O I see life is not short, but immeasurably long,
One generation playing its part and passing on,
Another generation playing its part and passing on in its turn,
The new-born emerging from gates, and the dying emerging from gates,
All, all alike endear’d—
Grown, ungrown, young or old,
The helpless infants, and the helpless old men and women,
And the hunger that crosses the bridge between—
No gulf every really divides one generation from another.
A man is a summons and challenge,
O living always, always dying!
O the burials of me past and present,
O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not, I am content,)
O to disengage myself from those corpses of me, which I turn and look at where I cast them,
To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the corpses behind.