When I was courting puberty my father took me by
And spoke of strange, exotic changes that affect the eye.
I must admit it didn’t seem to make much sense to me,
Although I nodded wisely and sometimes said, “I see.”
In retrospect I should have seen nostalgia in his eye
But in fact I noted other things – and chance has passed me by.
When I was one and twenty the world was full of fun
The laughing ladies in my life were conquered one by one.
The conquest was, in fact, the thing that life was really for
And I relished every moment as I battered down each door.
But I found my interest waning by the year of twenty-three
And I soon became selective and I set the others free.
When I was five and twenty I took her for my wife
(Though at thirteen I’d decided on a celibatic life
And at twenty I was loath to choose just one when all would do
And I’d cleaved to Platonism at the age of twenty-two).
So I passed the days more slowly, but it seemed to suit me fine.
And I watched the children growing by the age of twenty-nine.
And now the time approaches that I take my son aside
And reveal to him the wonders that the world is wont to hide.
But I fear that I’ve forgotten how those matters mean so much.
How the treasures youth discovers in a flirting woman’s touch
Are more valuable in moments than men find in mounds of gold.
And I fear that age convinced me that the world is growing old.