Young and Old
by Charles Kingsley
When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away!
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.
When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among;
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.
Summary of Young and Old
- Popularity of “Young and Old”: The poem, Young and Old is written by Charles Kingsley, an influential English writer, historian, and poet. The poem made its first appearance as a song in a book, The Water Babies, published in 1863. It focuses on the dissimilarities of young and old age. The speaker addresses the young generation and explains the differences between the two ages. Its popularity, however, lies in the terse explanations of the phenomenon of aging from an adult’s perspective.
- “Young and Old” As a Representative of Wonder: This beautiful literary piece illustrates how different phases of life constitute our inner and mature selves. The poem begins when a young and experienced speaker addresses the young generation and explains that when we are young, we have all the glimmers of life. We are often too busy to understand the world around us. Everything around us seems bright, colorful, and joyous. Nature attracts us and so do our relationships with others. Everyone enjoys his prime time to the fullest. However, when we step into old age, the attractive, vibrant, and joyful world starts losing its attraction. Our interest, sport, and enthusiasm fade away and we love to sit back and ponder over the time we have just passed. What enchants the reader is the way the speaker presents the two sides of the picture, focusing on the reality of life.
- Major Themes in “Young and Old”: Bounties of the world, the difference between young and old age, and the reality of life are the major themes of the poem. The speaker beautifully illustrates how time changes our life, our points of view, choices, and preferences. The experienced speaker tries to explain the peak of a young age when everything seems perfect, glamorous, and attractive. Ironically, the same glistening world turns into something bleak when we grow old. However, we love the world only when we are young.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Young and Old”
literary devices are tools that writers use to create depth and meaning in their texts. Through these devices, the writers convey their emotions, feelings, and ideas to the readers. They can also make the poems lifelike and connects the readers with the real message of the text. Charles Kingsley has also used a few literary devices in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /ee/ in “And all the trees are green”.
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession in the first letter of the word. For example, the sound of /g/ in “God grant you find one face there” and the sound of /s/ in “And all the sport is stale, lad”.
- Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of some words or expressions in the first part of some verses or sentences. For example, “and all the” is repeated in the last stanza of the poem to emphasize the point.
“And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down.”
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Creep home, and take your place there”, “Then hey for boot and horse, lad” and “And all the trees are green.”
- Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. This ironic poem draws our attention to the world which seems different to the young and old generation.
- Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poet has used the world compared with the young and old age.
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. “Green trees” symbolize youth while “brown trees” symbolize old age.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Young and Old”
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “among/young”, “brown/down” and “away/day.”
- Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows an ABAB rhyme scheme and this pattern continues until the end.
- Repetition: There is a repetition of the verse “When all the world is old, lad” which has created a musical quality in the poem.
- Refrain: The lines that are repeated at some distance in the poems are called refrains. The verse, “When all the world is old, lad” shows this use of a refrain in the poem.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are two stanzas in this poem with each comprising the same number of verses.
Quotes to be Used
The lines stated below are useful for children to make them understand that they can enjoy the glories of the world when they are young.
“God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.”