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Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Catch For Singing - Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

Said the Old Young Man to the Young Old Man:
"Alack and well-a-day!"
Said the Young Old Man to the Old Young Man:
"The cherry tree's in flourish!"

Said the Old Young Man to the Young Old Man:
"The world is growing gray."
Said the Young Old Man to the Old Young Man:
"The cherry three's in flourish!"

Said the Old Young Man to the Young Old Man:
"Both flower and fruit decay."
Said the Young Old Man to the Old Young Man:
"The cherry three's in flourish!"

Said the Old Young Man to the Young Old Man:
"Alack and well-a-day!
The world is growing gray:
And flower and fruit decay.
Beware, Old Man - beware, Old Man!
For the end of life is nearing;
And the grave yawns by the way..."

Said the Young Old Man to the Old Young Man:
"I'm a trifle hard of hearing;
And can't catch a word you say...
But the cherry-tree's in flourish!"










The two characters of this poem, the Old Young Man, and the Young Old Man, show that youth and age are not just physical states, but states of mental being.  The Old Young Man is a youth, fiery, filled with the doom of the world, and as Gibson characterizes him, a real nuisance.  He can't see the good or renewal of life implicit in the flourishing of the cherry-tree, only the eventual rot and decay.  He's all the crotchety old man in the world stuffed into a young man's body.

The Young Old Man, on the other hand, completely ignores him (or is simply hard of hearing as he said) and delights in the flourishing of the cherry tree.  He sees the beauty in the world and revels therein.  He's all the carefree delight and dalliance of youth in an old man's body.  I certainly know I'd rather spend an afternoon with the Young Old Man than with the Old Young Man.  The Old Young Man comes across as childish in his doom and gloom blustering, and I think Gibson intended as such.
I know that personally, I can sometimes come across as the Old Young Man, though I try my best not to.  It's good to step back and see the flowers in bloom, to feel carefree when confronted with beauty.  I think the constant connectedness of us all to bad news has turned us societally into Old Young Men (and Women).  Let's take some time to work on seeing beauty together.

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