Poem: Age is Better

This poem was emailed to me by a fellow named Mike, who asked that men have an opportunity to share their views about aging on our blog as well. The poem is by Rod McKuen. I thought both men and women might like it. Dr. Vivian

Age is Better

I have been young,
a fresh faced sprout,
with agile legs, a muscled arm and smile
to charm the world I went through
in a rush to get a little older, sooner.

Catching my reflection while passing past
a looking glass not long ago
I discovered I was older, even old. There was
no sudden melancholy or regret, and yet
some sadness in the wonder that it happened
while I wasn’t watching,
No pause to proudly ply the autumn into winter
process.
Imagine.
Nothing changed.
I run as fast. I think a little faster and yet forget
at times what I went after there as I left here to
get it. This while crossing half a room
not half a lifetime.

So I’ve been young and I’ve been old and have
determined old is better.

Youth unfolds like coy Cleopatra from a rug
spilling all its golden wonders at the foot of age
who seems to envy everything, especially spring.
The young
pledge anything to get an audience. Delivering
sometimes, most times not, on their way before
the promissory note comes due.
Can you blame them as they hurry off, afraid
another runner may beat them to The Score ahead
leaving nothing to be scored?

Age is oft times bitter, feeling in its failing health
that wealth of life eluded it. Apologize somebody or
some thing for leaving me to find the way I never
found or could not find because it was not there
or never was.

But having seen the surge of youth, the sag of age
in breast and chest and everything, I still say spring
is overrated. Age is better.
Less is expected of the once firm chest that drags
a little lower, the robust voice reduced to murmur
speaking slower.

Age can finally say aloud what it really feels and
thinks in after dinner company or crowd.
No one blinks. If they do, no matter.
Age erases pretence; replacing it with honesty.

Age is proof you got from there to here.
Alas so many that you loved
did not complete the journey. You mourn them, yes,
and always will, but age is such a triumph over youth,
again, because you moved across the years to here.
Leaving there where it belongs
for youth to come along and re-discover.

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Category: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , 14 comments »

14 Responses to “Poem: Age is Better”

  1. Dr. Vivian

    Mike, My trouble with poems like this one by McKuen is that they often come from a perspective that is quite different than a woman’s experience of aging. It’s not that I don’t believe men can understand women and vice a versa. If I believed that, women psychotherapists wouldn’t be able to help men, which is just not true. But until recently, I don’t believe have truly understood the kind of pressure women have felt to look youthful as they age. Men seem to have had more freedom to rely on other aspects of themselves to enjoy the aging process. This pressure is starting to be placed on men, unfortunately, with our culture increasing focused on youth for both men and women. And women hopefully will get to a new comfortable place (that’s what our book is hoping to achieve), where aging is equated with greater freedom of choice rather than the narrowing of choices when it comes to their appearance. Thanks for sending us the poem. Dr. Vivian

  2. Jessie

    Re: McKuen’s poem

    As a single woman in my late 30’s who wishes to get married, I have to say that a poem such as McKuen’s offers no comfort. I am successful, accomplished, stylish, in great shape and feel more confident about myself than I have ever been. There are so many things great about getter older- I agree. However, I ideally would like to find a partner closer to my age ( sans children, ex-wives, pot bellies, etc), but the harsh reality is that it is so much harder for me than my male peers. I don’t define myself by age or how I look, but when it come to finding love and marriage, many men would define me that way.
    The perfect poem would be one where a man is writing to a woman and telling her how more and more wonderful she is becoming with age…

  3. Dr. Jill

    Jessie,
    I understand how you feel. It can be very frustrating to think a man may be “defining” you before he even knows you.
    That said, don’t lose sight of who you are and all that you are – hopefully the man who is lucky enough to really see you will have been worth the wait.
    Dr. Jill

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