Mason's Musings on Kingsley's Young and Old

Young and Old

by Charles Kingsley

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.

Mason's Musings

From infancy to childhood, parents and siblings mean the world. However, as one grows into youth the desire to own the world and acquire the power gradually alienates them from all that mattered before. But no material possession carries true satisfaction; once it is handed over, it loses its shimmer and shine. Desires are beautiful until fulfilled; power and wealth are fanciful until one's blindfold is removed. It's funny how we often fail to value the things we already have until we lose them. It is often too late when we realize that true satisfaction and the meaning of life only lie in the meaningful time we spend with the people we hold close to us. As we age, we recline emotionally to the state of a baby who came from the void and is now close to returning. We wish we had known what matters for real in life.

The last couplet of this poem hits us like an iron rod:

"God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young."

And at once, you realize that no power, wealth, or material success ever brought us the joy you felt when you used to hear dad's footsteps coming home from work or mum telling stories, and playing with siblings.

This poem is simply Kingsley's yearning for you to learn this lesson before it's too late. 

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