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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Youth and Age

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834)

VERSE, a breeze ’mid blossoms straying,

Where Hope clung feeding, like a bee—

Both were mine! Life went a-Maying

With Nature, Hope, and Poesy,

When I was young!

When I was young?—Ah, woful when!

Ah, for the change ’twixt now and then!

This breathing house not built with hands,

This body that does me grievous wrong,

O’er airy cliffs and glittering sands,

How lightly then it flashed along:—

Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore,

On winding lakes and rivers wide,

That ask no aid of sail or oar,

That fear no spite of wind or tide!

Naught cared this body for wind or weather

When Youth and I lived in’t together.

Flowers are lovely; Love is flower-like,

Friendship is a sheltering tree;

O the joys that came down shower-like,

Of Friendship, Love, and Liberty!

Ere I was old!

Ere I was old? Ah, woful Ere,

Which tells me Youth’s no longer here!

O Youth! for years so many and sweet,

’Tis known that thou and I were one;

I’ll think it but a fond conceit—

It cannot be that thou art gone!

Thy vesper bell hath not yet tolled:—

And thou wert aye a masker bold!

What strange disguise hast now put on

To make believe that thou art gone?

I see these locks in silvery slips,

This drooping gait, this alter’d size:

But spring-tide blossoms on thy lips,

And tears take sunshine from thine eyes!

Life is but thought: so think I will

That Youth and I are housemates still.