Dream Tales and Prose Poems/Poems in Prose/The Old Man

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THE OLD MAN

Days of darkness, of dreariness, have come. . . . Thy own infirmities, the sufferings of those dear to thee, the chill and gloom of old age. All that thou hast loved, to which thou hast given thyself irrevocably, is falling, going to pieces. The way is all down-hill.

What canst thou do? Grieve? Complain? Thou wilt aid not thyself nor others that way. . . .

On the bowed and withering tree the leaves are smaller and fewer, but its green is yet the same.

Do thou too shrink within, withdraw into thyself, into thy memories, and there, deep down, in the very depths of the soul turned inwards on itself, thy old life, to which thou alone hast the key, will be bright again for thee, in all the fragrance, all the fresh green, and the grace and power of its spring!

But beware . . . look not forward, poor old man!

July 1878.