Thursday, November 1, 2012

Classic Poems: 'I'm Growing Old' by John Godfrey Saxe

As I turned another year older this week (sigh), I thought I'd share this poignant little poem 'I'm Growing Old' by John Godfrey Saxe, penned sometime in the 1800s. Seems like nothing has really changed in the last two centuries on how we grow old.

I'm Growing Old
By John Godfrey Saxe

My days pass pleasantly away;
  My nights are blest with sweetest sleep;
I feel no symptoms of decay;
  I have no cause to mourn nor weep;
My foes are impotent and shy;
  My friends are neither false nor cold,
And yet, of late, I often sigh--
                 I am growing old!

My growing talk of olden times,
  My growing thirst for early news,
My growing apathy to rhymes,
  My growing love of easy shoes,
My growing hate of crowds and noise,
  My growing fear of taking cold,
All whisper, in the plainest voice,
                 I'm growing old!

I'm growing fonder of my staff;
  I'm growing dimmer in the eyes;
I'm growing fainter in my laugh;
  I'm growing deeper in my sighs;
I'm growing careless of my dress;
  I'm growing frugal of my gold;
I'm growing wise; I'm growing,-- yes,--
                 I'm growing old!

I see it in my changing taste;
  I see it in my changing hair;
I see it in my growing waist;
  I see it in my growing heir;
A thousand signs proclaim the truth,
  As plain as truth was ever told,
That, even in my vaunted youth,
                 I'm growing old!

Ah me! my very laurels breathe
  The tale in my reluctant ears,
And every boon the Hours bequeath
  But makes me debtor to the Years!
E'en Flattery's honeyed words declare
  The secret she would fain withhold,
And tells me in "How young you are!"
                 I'm growing old!

Thanks for the years! -- whose rapid flight
  My sombre Muse too sadly sings;
Thanks for the gleams of golden light
  That tint the darkness of their wings;
The light that beams from out the sky,
  Those heavenly mansions to unfold
Where all are blest, and none may sigh,
                   "I'm growing old!"  

Excerpted from 'The Poems of John Godfrey Saxe: Complete Edition', James R. Osgood and Company, Boston, 1873.

I suspect I'm not the only one with whom this poem will resonate ... :)

PS Happy Poetry Friday, hosted this week at the Mainely Write blog.


  1. No, you're not the only one! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Happy birthday anyway, you old curmudgeon! This is a very clever poem with a very clever format - and what a very clever rhyme is "growing hair" and "growing heir." Thanks for the intro to yet another classic. When will we see another of your own? :)

    1. Oh! And thank you so much for adding my video to your resources page! I am honored! :)

    2. Thanks Renee :)

      Btw in case you missed it there was a new original poem in my previous post this week

  3. Ah yes, we all grow old, but the child in you remains forever young. Happy Birthday (I have one coming up in a couple of weeks).

    1. Thanks Jama - Happy Birthday to you too in advance :)

  4. OH dear-Much of this does indeed resonate. Especially:

    My growing love of easy shoes,
    My growing hate of crowds and noise,


  5. I'm with you, Vikram - every year, it seems like I get a little older. ;) Seriously, so many of us can realte to this! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Oh boy can I relate to that poem!
    I love the wordplay rhymes (heir/hair). So clever.

    1. I liked the poem too for the way he structured it and the feelings he captured. The more I read John G. Saxes, poems, the more and more I'm in awe of his talent. Apparently his 'collected works' were very popular in their day, achieving their '9th edition' in just a matter of a few years after publication (which was during his lifetime, not posthumously like most other poets).


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...