Brave Thackeray has trolled of days when he was twenty-one,
And bounded up five flights of stairs, a gallant garreteer;
And yet again in mellow vein when youth was gaily run,
Has dipped his nose in Gascon wine, and told of Forty Year.
But if I worthy were to sing a richer, rarer time,
I’d tune my pipes before the fire and merrily I’d strive
To praise that age when prose again has given way to rhyme,
The Indian Summer days of life when I’ll be Sixty-five;
For then my work will all be done, my voyaging be past,
And I’ll have earned the right to rest where folding hills are green;
So in some glassy anchorage I’ll make my cable fast,
Oh, let the seas show all their teeth, I’ll sit and smile serene.
The storm may bellow round the roof, I’ll bide beside the fire,
And many a scene of sail and trail within the flame I’ll see;
For I’ll have worn away the spur of passion and desire. . . .
Oh yes, when I am Sixty-five, what peace will come to me.
I’ll take my breakfast in my bed, I’ll rise at half-past ten,
When all the world is nicely groomed and full of golden song;
I’ll smoke a bit and joke a bit, and read the news, and then
I’ll potter round my peach-trees till I hear the luncheon gong.
And after that I think I’ll doze an hour, well, maybe two,
And then I’ll show some kindred soul how well my roses thrive;
I’ll do the things I never yet have found the time to do. . . .
Oh, won’t I be the busy man when I am Sixty-five.
I’ll revel in my library; I’ll read De Morgan’s books;
I’ll grow so garrulous I fear you’ll write me down a bore;
I’ll watch the ways of ants and bees in quiet sunny nooks,
I’ll understand Creation as I never did before.
When gossips round the tea-cups talk I’ll listen to it all;
On smiling days some kindly friend will take me for a drive:
I’ll own a shaggy collie dog that dashes to my call:
I’ll celebrate my second youth when I am Sixty-five.
Ah, though I’ve twenty years to go, I see myself quite plain,
A wrinkling, twinkling, rosy-cheeked, benevolent old chap;
I think I’ll wear a tartan shawl and lean upon a cane.
I hope that I’ll have silver hair beneath a velvet cap.
I see my little grandchildren a-romping round my knee;
So gay the scene, I almost wish ‘twould hasten to arrive.
Let others sing of Youth and Spring, still will it seem to me
The golden time’s the olden time, some time round Sixty-five.