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Tuesday 21 June 2011

Growing Old

It's been a revelation, somehow,
                                growing old.
It isn't what you think when you are young.
The days are only partly what they are,
they're also what you've stored up from the past.
Your memory,
           that part of you you cannot summon as you did,
is kicking in unprompted, without leave.
It's redefining:
                meanings, programmes, tasks;
adding layers to the you you've always been.
You still are what you've always known you were,
but part of some great challenge still to come.

They tell you at each turning of your life
(consulting lists the actuaries make)
how much of you looks back and how much on,
              the ratio of past to future tense.

The good and bad of yesterday we thought had gone
have followed us
                to shine a gentler light on where we are:
we are walking through a life from room to room.
It's a house we knew of old
                           though long ago.
Each room brings ancient histories to light
and each new light reflects a different past.
And as the past moves through its days and seasons, 
so do we see the shadows lengthen or reduce.

We read as much into these old projections
as will give them power to turn a life around.


Jenny Woolf said...

I enjoyed this poem. I wonder what the last two lines mean, though. I find them disturbing!

Isabel Doyle said...

A fine poem Mr King: I like the way you played with time and memory and the subjective now.

jabblog said...

'we are walking through a life from room to room' - I like that image.

Carl said...

The good and bad of yesterday we thought had gone
have followed us
to shine a gentler light on where we are:

Written with a keen eye looking both forward and backward.

Another great one Dave.

SG said...

Dave, this is a beautiful poem, really beautiful. I can read each line of the poem and link back to my life. How true, we do walk from room to room, and the good and bad of years gone by stay with us till we are alive.

CiCi said...

So true, amazingly spot on. Bringing stuff with us we have accumulated makes us what we are now, but at the same time we are not what we were previously. This is one of my favorites. Have you painted a picture to go with it?

The Weaver of Grass said...

I think this is a good description of old age Dave.

Windsmoke. said...

Think young and you won't grow old. "We are walking through life from room to room" as one door closes another one opens, there are many doors in a life time to :-).

Mary said...

Good poem, Dave. So much of life is open to interpretation as we look back, and do we really remember things as they were?

Dave King said...

Nothing untoward, just that the past, depending how we process it, can have a powerful effect upon the present, either for good or evil.

Thanks a lot for that. It's both reassuring and useful to know these things.

Yes, it's helpful I find. I've often felt that.

I thought you were going to say a Janus figure! Thanks for the comment.

Many thanks for those most generous words. Glad you enjoyed it.

That's a fab' idea! No, I haven't a painting to go with it, I think it might tax my powers a tad, but I'll have a think. Much thanks for your comment.

The Weaver of Grass
Thanks. Good to know. Old age isn't all bad, I've found, certainly better than the alternative - so far!

True, very true, and no, probably we don't, but it's as we remember them that matters. Our memories are the real truth of the past, whether it happened that way or not.

Or did we even perceive things as they were back then?

Jim Murdoch said...

I like this but it’s very much a poem of two halves for me and the first part feels a little like preamble. Once you start talking about the various effects of light the piece becomes more poetic. You might want to think about letting the second half stand on its own with a title like ‘Dim Lights’, ‘The Light Dims’ or something like that. This doesn’t mean that the first half is bad – it is not and I can relate to it – but, for me, it states rather than evokes.

lucychili said...

yes life has harmonics

Dave King said...

Agreed, Stands out a mile once it's been pointed out. Just don't know why I didn't spot it. Many thanks for the steer.

Yes, and that could be the inspiration for another poem!