Growing Old - a Poem by Matthew Arnold

Topics: Old age, Middle age, Gerontology Pages: 3 (929 words) Published: April 20, 2012
Growing Old - a poem 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.

Harneet Banga
When we are younger we often imagine how great it would be to be older. However, when we are older, we can no longer enjoy life the way we used to, due to our physical body. Therefore the poem “Growing Old” by Matthew Arnold, basically interprets, that we should enjoy the present time we are given in life rather than looking forward to a time we think we’ll enjoy. Matthew Arnold has described the elderly people and the meaning of the poem, right through the poem, with the help of poetic devices. The specific idea of imagery of this poem appears to be related directly to the passage on old age people. For example, “Grow stiffer, every function less exact,” this quote states that once you’re older, the body of an old age person becomes...
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