The Old Man’s Comforts, and how he gained them

by ROBERT SOUTHEY (1774-1843)

“You are old, father William,” the young man cried,
“The few locks which are left you are grey;
You are hale, father William, a hearty old man;
now tell me the reason, I pray.”

“In the days of my youth,” father William replied,
“I remember’d that youth would fly past,
And abus’d not my health and my vigour at first,
That I never might need them at last.”

“In the days of my youth,” father William replied,
“You are old, father William,” the young man cried,
“And pleasures with youth pass away.
And yet you lament not the days that are gone;
Now tell me the reason, I pray.”

“I remember’d that youth could not last;
I thought of the future, whatever I did,
That I never might grieve for the past.”

“You are old, father William,” the young man cried,
“And life must be hast’ning away;
You are cheerful and love to converse upon death;
Now tell me the reason, I pray.”

“I am cheerful, young man,” father William replied,
“Let the cause thy attention engage;
In the days of my youth I remember’d my God!
And he hath not forgotten my age.”

Father William parody by Lewis Carroll

Robert Southey

One of the “Lake Poets” with Coleridge and Wordsworth, Robert Southey was also Coleridge’s brother-in-law (their wives were sisters). Southey was appointed England’s poet laureate by King George III in 1813, after Sir Walter Scott refused the post. He held the post until his death in 1843. Queen Victoria appointed William Wordsworth as his successor.

Robert Southey Contemporaries
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Thomas Love Peacock
Leigh Hunt
John Clare

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