Young and Old

At the end of Chapter II of “The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby” ( see here), the children’s novel written by Charles Kingsley, we can read the following poem, which originally appeared as a song sung by one of the characters.

It is often given under the title “Young and Old” and talks about the dissimilarities between youth and old age: the last two lines relieve the sadness of age and give the poem a sense of peace and serenity.

    WHEN all the world is young, lad,
        And all the trees are green;
    And every goose a swan, lad,
        And every lass a queen;
    Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
        And round the world away;
    Young blood must have its course, lad,
        And every dog his day.

    When all the world is old, lad,
        And all the trees are brown ;
    And all the sport is stale, lad,
        And all the wheels run down ;
    Creep home, and take your place there,
        The spent and maimed among :
    God grant you find one face there,
        You loved when all was young.

GIOVENTÙ E VECCHIAIA

Quando tutto il mondo è giovane, ragazzo,
e gli alberi sono tutti verdi,
e ogni oca è un cigno, ragazzo,
e ogni ragazza una regina,
allora forza, prendi cavallo e carrozza, ragazzo,
e gira il mondo;
il sangue giovane deve seguire il suo corso, ragazzo,
e ognuno deve cogliere la sua occasione.

Quando tutto il mondo è vecchio, ragazzo,
e gli alberi sono tutti marroni,
e ogni divertimento è esaurito, ragazzo,
e ogni ingranaggio va in rovina,
infilati in casa e prendi posto lì
tra gli esauriti e gli invalidi:
che Dio ti conceda di trovarvi il viso
che amavi quando tutto era giovane.

(L.Z.)

35 thoughts on “Young and Old

  1. That is so beautiful. It brought a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat. These Virus Times are making me feel spent and maimed. I am so fortunate to have loved ones (family and friends) around me who from when I was young. Thank you for posting this, it is a great reminder of what is truly important in life.

    Liked by 1 person

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