pg 167Editor’s NoteOn reading my Father's 'Youth and Age'
- Sometimes 'tis with a touch of natural grief
- That I behold the sere and yellow leaf
- I'm fallen into – my summer scarce yet gone,
- When th'year should put some solid bravery on:
- And think that, had the skies been less unkind,
- Nor sent an untimely frost and winter wind
- Into my Autumn, it might well have shown
- A verdure and luxuriance of its own,
- Somewhat more answering to my vernal hour,
- When, spite of many a blast and beating show'r,
- Not much I lacked of Spring's enchanting dow'r.
- But soon some better thoughts I hope to win
- I ask, what aspect wears the soul within?
- In her do those, who clearest see, descry
- The wasted form, wan cheek and sunken eye?
- Or hath she put some Autumn bravery on
- To recompense for Spring and Summer gone,
- And, 'mid the cruel season's wasting stress,
- More gained in pow'r than lost in loveliness?
- To this my gentle friends shall answer make:
- Their thoughts thereon I'll gladly take
- For my soul's mirror, and will strive to be
- Whate'er that flatt'ring glass reports of me.
- This only dare I for myself to say,
- That, let me lose or gain what charms I may,
- Heav'n grants me more and more a heart t'admire
- All beauty that can genial thoughts inspire.
- And though this truth no genuine sage assails,
- 'Less what we have than what we are avails',
- Herein to have is surely best by far –
- To – gaze – to love – and care not what we are.
Page 167. 'On reading my Father's "Youth and Age"' (RB, 1845?, 'For A. de V.'). In her co-edited volume of STC's poems, SC's note on 'Youth and Age' suggests that the composition of the poem reflected its theme, in that (she argues) its opening seventeen-line verse paragraph was written far later than the 32 lines of its final two paragraphs. Coleridge's poem is a lament for the lost powers of his youth.