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This poem is often wrongly thought to be by Robert W Service. It is published here to the memory of Hugh Antoine D'Arcy, its rightful father.
An Evening with the Bard of the Yukon, July 18 th 2003 at 20.30pm in the Town-Hall of Lancieux, Brittany.
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A Song of Sixty-Five

Published by Susan on 07/26/2003 (3685 reads)
Brave Thackeray has trolled of days when he was twenty-one...

The Garden of the Luxembourg,
Late July 1914.

When on some scintillating summer morning I leap lightly up to the seclusion of my garret, I often think of those lines: "In the brave days when I was twenty-one."

True, I have no loving, kind Lisette to pin her petticoat across the pane, yet I do live in hope. Am I not in Bohemia the Magical, Bohemia of Murger, of de Musset, of Verlaine? Shades of Mimi Pinson, of Trilby, of all that immortal line of laughterful grisettes, do not tell me that the days of love and fun are forever at an end!

Yes, youth is golden, but what of age? Shall it too not testify to the rhapsody of existence? Let the years between be those of struggle, of sufferance -- of disillusion if you will; but let youth and age affirm the ecstasy of being. Let us look forward all to a serene sunset, and in the still skies "a late lark singing".

This thought comes to me as, sitting on a bench near the band-stand, I see an old savant who talks to all the children. His clean-shaven face is alive with kindliness; under his tall silk hat his white hair falls to his shoulders. He wears a long black cape over a black frock-coat, very neat linen, and a flowing tie of black silk. I call him "Silvester Bonnard". As I look at him I truly think the best of life are the years between sixty and seventy.

 

A Song of Sixty-Five

Brave Thackeray has trolled of days when he was twenty-one,
And bounded up five flights of stairs, a gallant garreteer;
And yet again in mellow vein when youth was gaily run,
Has dipped his nose in Gascon wine, and told of Forty Year.
But if I worthy were to sing a richer, rarer time,
I'd tune my pipes before the fire and merrily I'd strive
To praise that age when prose again has given way to rhyme,
The Indian Summer days of life when I'll be Sixty-five;

For then my work will all be done, my voyaging be past,
And I'll have earned the right to rest where folding hills are green;
So in some glassy anchorage I'll make my cable fast, --
Oh, let the seas show all their teeth, I'll sit and smile serene.
The storm may bellow round the roof, I'll bide beside the fire,
And many a scene of sail and trail within the flame I'll see;
For I'll have worn away the spur of passion and desire. . . .
Oh yes, when I am Sixty-five, what peace will come to me.

I'll take my breakfast in my bed, I'll rise at half-past ten,
When all the world is nicely groomed and full of golden song;
I'll smoke a bit and joke a bit, and read the news, and then
I'll potter round my peach-trees till I hear the luncheon gong.
And after that I think I'll doze an hour, well, maybe two,
And then I'll show some kindred soul how well my roses thrive;
I'll do the things I never yet have found the time to do. . . .
Oh, won't I be the busy man when I am Sixty-five.

I'll revel in my library; I'll read De Morgan's books;
I'll grow so garrulous I fear you'll write me down a bore;
I'll watch the ways of ants and bees in quiet sunny nooks,
I'll understand Creation as I never did before.
When gossips round the tea-cups talk I'll listen to it all;
On smiling days some kindly friend will take me for a drive:
I'll own a shaggy collie dog that dashes to my call:
I'll celebrate my second youth when I am Sixty-five.

Ah, though I've twenty years to go, I see myself quite plain,
A wrinkling, twinkling, rosy-cheeked, benevolent old chap;
I think I'll wear a tartan shawl and lean upon a cane.
I hope that I'll have silver hair beneath a velvet cap.
I see my little grandchildren a-romping round my knee;
So gay the scene, I almost wish 'twould hasten to arrive.
Let others sing of Youth and Spring, still will it seem to me
The golden time's the olden time, some time round Sixty-five.


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