On Ageing Disgracefully – Reprise

[ Wednesday Replay # 3 ] 

[  First posted on    ]

‘Age I do abhor thee’

Whilst the following rhyming couplets in no way describe my own experience of encroaching dotage, the verses are my attempt to express a view of the feelings and needs of a ‘grumpy old man’ contemplating his future, isolated by senility from his nearest and dearest.

These thoughts were generated by a re-reading of the madrigal verses, Crabbed age and Youth’, attributed to Shakespeare, coupled with watching again an episode of Victor Meldrew’s character in the TV comedy, ‘One foot in the Grave’.


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CRABBED AGE

(On Ageing Disgracefully)

So who can we say will look after us
When we get old and cantankerous?

Can we rely on those near and dear? 
Or are we forsaken, alone in our fear?

We who were once so unstinting and kind
Do we not earn at last true peace of mind?

BUT . . .

All is not clear . . . To be truly sincere, 
The man I was then is no longer here.

FOR . . .

I’ve changed, and not for the better 
I’ve lost it now – down to the letter.

No one can know the way I now feel. 
I’ve got the worst of Faust’s done deal.

Bad-tempered with age; rancorous, unkind,
Left, with my youth, all my humour behind.

My bilious mien, my irascible stance 
Will never win friends or my nature enhance.

I’m old now and weary and decidedly bent 
My spirit and mind to perdition I’ve sent.

Choleric, petty, liverish, sickly, 
A curmudgeon, malcontent, surly and prickly.

I’m grumpy, I know, and I’m sad.
I’m thoughtless and tetchy and bad.

I’m full of regret and I hurt,
Bombastic and bitter and curt.

I know when I’m right, but not when I’m wrong,
I know where I live, not where I belong.

Selfish, caustic, hurtful, snide,
This present-day world I cannot abide.

My life is defiled, and I’m full of bile;
A fossilised drone, sterile and vile.

NEVERTHELESS . . .

I need you beside me all the day long.
Don’t tell me you’re tired – I know that you’re wrong.

I remember those vows that we once affirmed 
When the future was all that you and I yearned.

But I’m near to the end, so I’m taking a bow,
Who once was your soul-mate Is only a shell now.

The love that once held you so closely to me
Has gone since I’ve grown to be bitchy and gloomy

I know that you don’t want to stay any longer 
I’m just in your way now, it’s you who is stronger.

I’d hoped I could ask you to restore my dreams 
But time has dealt us its last blow it seems.

SO . . .

I relinquish my hold, and consign all my sorrows 
To a life that defeats me – and all our tomorrows.

 

HarryClarke-faust

The illustrations are from the Irish illustrator, Harry Clarke’s, 1921 edition of Goethe’s ‘FAUST’.

NEXT WEEK . . .  ‘On Ageing Gloriously’ !!!

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My Christmas Age

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I am one Christmas older than my age
And I thought this gave to me a great advantage;
But of course that is not true,
Because it’s just the same for you;
Think about it, then assess the damage.

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My Problem Age  

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WHB – 2017

The PROBLEM of AGE

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Am I at a problem age?

. . . OR

Do I have an old age problem?

. . . OR

Am I just part of an age-old problem? 

 

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Age is a problem, I’ve no doubt,
And one that can’t be solved.
Since time began
We know that Man
Has gradually evolved.

So, given that the speed of change
Is constantly advancing,
Why cannot we
Forever be
Subject to life enhancing?

It’s certainly an age-old problem,
Not just one of old age.
An anagram,
A new life plan,
Waiting to be assuaged.

I’m at a problem age right now
At the age of eighty two.
I’m obdurate,
I agitate,
And no one tells me what to do.

And when I get to One-O-Two
Who knows what I’ll be like?
I might begin
To live in sin,
Or start a hunger strike.

Time will tell, the saying goes,
But I may prove that wrong,
For when, at last,
My die is cast,
I still might jog along.

I might look weird, I will be odd,
I no doubt will be bald.
My old age pension
Won’t get a mention,
My workings might have stalled.

But I could prove you all quite wrong,
While still an ageing codger.
Surprise you all,
A new wife install,
Or introduce a lodger.

If I continue the way I’m going
The problem will be, you see,
Those other folk
Who I’ll provoke
To become old like me.

 

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I Am Not Your Toy Boy

Toy Boy

I AM NOT YOUR TOY BOY

 

Had enough of being your toy boy

I am not a toy

I am marked

‘Not to be toyed with’

It’s happened to me before

I’m much wiser now

Won’t let it happen again

To have my affections trifled with

Is no trifle

Hurts and damages any toy.

So think again dear lady

Find some other mug

One with a wealthier handle

Or one with a see-through wallet

Besides I don’t do the clubs

Not cougar-fodder

I don’t need to re-live my youth

In someone else’s image

We’re not on Route 66

And, for me, selfies are verboten

You won’t catch me in a spin

Texting those wild come-on

WhatsApps

For your later production in court.

Ought to be ashamed – and at your age!

Me – pushing eighty

And you …

I don’t care how you get your kicks

You must be all of ninety six.

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Larkin – ‘Love Songs In Age’

(Poem No.36 of my favourite short poems)

Chant d'Amour

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones … ‘Chant d’Amour’ Oil on canvas – 1868-87

LOVE SONGS IN AGE

She kept her songs, they kept so little space,
      The covers pleased her:
One bleached from lying in a sunny place,
One marked in circles by a vase of water,
One mended, when a tidy fit had seized her,
       And coloured, by her daughter –
So they had waited, till, in widowhood
She found them, looking for something else, and stood 

Relearning how each frank submissive chord
      Had ushered in
Word after sprawling hyphenated word,
And the unfailing sense of being young
Spread out like a spring-woken tree, wherein
      That hidden freshness sung,
That certainty of time laid up in store
As when she played them first. But, even more,

The glare of that much-mentioned brilliance, love,
      Broke out, to show
Its bright incipience sailing above,
Still promising to solve, and satisfy,
And set unchangeably in order. So
      To pile them back, to cry,
Was hard, without lamely admitting how
It had not done so then, and could not now.

By Philip Larkin

Re-printed from:  ‘Everyman’s Poetry’

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Then Will I Sing

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Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898) … St.Cecilia – Stained Glass – 2nd Presbyterian Church, Chicago

 

When time at last has caught its fearful breath
And I have cause to think again of you,
I will return to our far distant past
And then relive those old desires anew.

For when in trepidation I now pray
For health and strength in my remaining years,
Memories flood back of youthful days
When you and I brushed eyes and shed some tears.

Now, when hearts may meet and lips may touch,
And old less supple bodies bond in bliss,
Now, when you give to me your self in love,
Then will I sing and long remember this.

That youth and age together make a life,
Related sides of but a single page.
This truth becomes at last to us apparent,
Allows our hearts in love to re-engage.

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