Sestina of Youth and Age

Frank Gelett Burgess

MY father died when I was all too young,
And he too old, too crowded with his care,
For me to know he knew my hot fierce hopes;
Youth sees wide chasms between itself and Age
How could I think he, too, had lived my life?
My dreams were all of war, and his of rest.

And so he sleeps (please God), at last at rest,
And, it may be, with soul refreshed, more young
Than when he left me, for that other life
Free, for a while, at least, from that old Care,
The hard, relentless torturer of his age,
That cooled his youth, and bridled all his hopes.

For now I know he had the longing hopes,
The wild desires of youth, and all the rest
Of my ambitions, ere he came to age;
He, too, was bold, when he was free and young
Had I but known that he could feel, and care!
How could I know the secret of his life?

In my own youth I see his early life
So reckless, and so full of flaming hopes
I see him jubilant, without a care,
The days too short, and grudging time for rest;
He knew the wild delight of being young
Shall I, too, know the calmer joys of age?

His words come back, to mind me of that age
When, lovingly, he watched my broadening life
And, dreaming of the days when he was young,
Smiled at my joys, and shared my fears and hopes.
His words still live, for in my heart they rest,
Too few not to be kept with jealous care!

Ah, little did I know how he could care!
That, in my youth, lay joys to comfort age!
Not in this world, for him, was granted rest,
But as he lived, in me, a happier life,
He prayed more earnestly to win my hopes
Than ever for his own, when he was young!


He once was young; I too must fight with Care;
He knew my hopes, and I must share his age;
God grant my life be worthy, too, of rest!