Author's Diction~Vipin Behari Goyal: Old Age in Literature

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Old Age in Literature

The Best is Yet To Come



The Old Age is one of the prime issues for Literature. How society provides necessities and comfort to older generation is the criterion of its evolution. The old age is embodiment of all types of physical and mental degeneration. The consumption of youth is old age and consumption of old age is death. The inevitability has an unexpectedness and epiphany in store.

The Time has arrived to change your old tattered coat and get a new one. The Master has already chosen a perfect design that would suit you best. He has already forgiven all your sins and Kingdom of Heaven is waiting for you.

Literature has deep connections with old age. Every great poet has written at least something about it. Every person has his own perception of old age. What is the age when a person can be called old?

Being a senior citizen is different from being an old man. How old is really old that everybody would agree is old. How does anybody matter if that person himself does not agree to it.

The NY Times has many views of its readers on this topic. The range is wide. Some believe that 30 is the onset of old age while others believe that 75 is a good age to be labeled as old. It seems that every person becomes old at different age. There are many external factors that determine the oldness of a person. How disciplined life you have lived? Were you moderate in your approach? Did you sin and never heard the voice of conscience? Have you earned the love and respect of your family and friends?

Not only the factors that are in your hand, but also there are factors over which you had no control. Have you inherited a strong body? All those to whom you loved and cared are safe and healthy? Have you attended many funerals of your loved one younger to you?

Robert Browning in his poem Rabbi Ben Ezra said

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life for which the first was made:

In fact, all the thirty-two stanzas in this poem are full of wisdom to accept the old age and depart happily.

W. B. Yeats in his poem “Sailing to Byzantium” declares

There is no country for old men.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick,

W. B. Yeats in his poem “The Tower” cries

What shall I do with this absurdity
O heart, O troubled heart - This caricature,
Decrepit age that has been tied to me
As to a dog’s tail.

Alfred Lord Tennyson in his poem "Ulysses" said

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

At the end of this poem Tennyson revealed

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

R. W. Emerson in "Terminus" accepts

It is time to be old,
To take in sail:-

DH. Lawrence in "Beautiful Old Age" expects

It ought to be lovely to be old
to be full peace that comes of experience

King Lear in a play by Shakespeare laments

I am very foolish fond old man…
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.

The old man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway is a saga of an old man who had a strong will power and conquers the nature.

The literature is quite optimistic about old age.


                                                        From Tall Man Small Shadow”.

The Old Man and the Nymph” show how life force of nymphs can rejuvenate the old age.


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© Vipin Behari Goyal

Advocate, Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur, India 

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