Love and Age

by THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK (1785-1866)

read by Peter Yearling. Download the entire poem from Librivox

I play’d with you ‘mid cowslips blowing,
  When I was six and you were four;
When garlands weaving, flower-balls throwing,
  Were pleasures soon to please no more.
Through groves and meads, o’er grass and heather,
  With little playmates, to and fro,
We wander’d hand in hand together;
  But that was sixty years ago.

You grew a lovely roseate maiden,
  And still our early love was strong;
Still with no care our days were laden,
  They glided joyously along;
And I did love you very dearly,
  How dearly words want power to show;
I thought your heart was touch’d as nearly;
  But that was fifty years ago.

Then other lovers came around you,
  Your beauty grew from year to year,
And many a splendid circle found you
  The centre of its glimmering sphere.
I saw you then, first vows forsaking,
  On rank and wealth your hand bestow;
O, then I thought my heart was breaking!–
  But that was forty years ago.

And I lived on, to wed another:
  No cause she gave me to repine;
And when I heard you were a mother,
  I did not wish the children mine.
My own young flock, in fair progression,
  Made up a pleasant Christmas row:
My joy in them was past expression;
  But that was thirty years ago.

You grew a matron plump and comely,
  You dwelt in fashion’s brightest blaze;
My earthly lot was far more homely;
  But I too had my festal days.
No merrier eyes have ever glisten’d
  Around the hearth-stone’s wintry glow,
Than when my youngest child was christen’d;
  But that was twenty years ago.

Time pass’d. My eldest girl was married,
  And I am now a grandsire gray;
One pet of four years old I’ve carried
  Among the wild-flower’d meads to play.
In our old fields of childish pleasure,
  Where now, as then, the cowslips blow,
She fills her basket’s ample measure;
  And that is not ten years ago.

But though first love’s impassion’d blindness
  Has pass’d away in colder light,
I still have thought of you with kindness,
  And shall do, till our last good-night.
The ever-rolling silent hours
  Will bring a time we shall not know,
When our young days of gathering flowers
  Will be an hundred years ago.

Thomas Love Peacock

Peacock’s novels are unique in English, and are among the most scholarly, original, and entertaining prose writings of the century…. His learned wit, his satire upon the vulgarity of progress, are more continuously present in his prose than in his verse; but the novels are filled with cheerful scraps of rhyming, wine songs, love songs, songs of mockery, and nonsense jingles, some of which are no more than the scholar’s idle diversions, but others of a singular excellence. They are like no other verse; they are startling, grotesque, full of hearty extravagances, at times thrilling with unexpected beauty. (from The Romantic Movement in English Poetry By Arthur Symons)

Thomas Love Peacock Contemporaries
Leigh Hunt
Lord Byron
Percy Bysshe Shelley
William Wordsworth

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