The Archbishop And Gil Blas - A Modernized Version

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

I Don't think I feel much older; I'm aware I'm rather gray,
But so are many young folks; I meet 'em every day.
I confess I 'm more particular in what I eat and drink,
But one's taste improves with culture; that is all it means, I think.

Can you read as once you used to? Well, the printing is so bad,
No young folks' eyes can read it like the books that once we had.
Are you quite as quick of hearing? Please to say that once again.
Don't I use plain words, your Reverence? Yes, I often use a cane,

But it's not because I need it, - no, I always liked a stick;
And as one might lean upon it, 't is as well it should be thick.
Oh, I'm smart, I'm spry, I'm lively, - I can walk, yes, that I can,
On the days I feel like walking, just as well as you, young man!

Don't you get a little sleepy after dinner every day?
Well, I doze a little, sometimes, but that always was my way.
Don't you cry a little easier than some twenty years ago?
Well, my heart is very tender, but I think 't was always so.

Don't you find it sometimes happens that you can't recall a name?
Yes, I know such lots of people, - but my memory 's not to blame.
What! You think my memory's failing! Why, it's just as bright and clear,
I remember my great-grandma! She's been dead these sixty year!

Is your voice a little trembly? Well, it may be, now and then,
But I write as well as ever with a good old-fashioned pen;
It 's the Gillotts make the trouble, - not at all my finger-ends, -
That is why my hand looks shaky when I sign for dividends.

Don't you stoop a little, walking? It 's a way I 've always had,
I have always been round-shouldered, ever since I was a lad.
Don't you hate to tie your shoe-strings? Yes, I own it - that is true.
Don't you tell old stories over? I am not aware I do.

Don't you stay at home of evenings? Don't you love a cushioned seat
In a corner, by the fireside, with your slippers on your feet?
Don't you wear warm fleecy flannels? Don't you muffle up your throat
Don't you like to have one help you when you're putting on your coat?

Don't you like old books you've dogs-eared, you can't remember when?
Don't you call it late at nine o'clock and go to bed at ten?
How many cronies can you count of all you used to know
Who called you by your Christian name some fifty years ago?

How look the prizes to you that used to fire your brain?
You've reared your mound-how high is it above the level plain?
You 've drained the brimming golden cup that made your fancy reel,
You've slept the giddy potion off, - now tell us how you feel!

You've watched the harvest ripening till every stem was cropped,
You 've seen the rose of beauty fade till every petal dropped,
You've told your thought, you 've done your task, you've tracked your dial round,
- I backing down! Thank Heaven, not yet! I'm hale and brisk and sound,

And good for many a tussle, as you shall live to see;
My shoes are not quite ready yet, - don't think you're rid of me!
Old Parr was in his lusty prime when he was older far,
And where will you be if I live to beat old Thomas Parr?

Ah well, - I know, - at every age life has a certain charm, -
You're going? Come, permit me, please, I beg you'll take my arm.
I take your arm! Why take your arm? I 'd thank you to be told
I 'm old enough to walk alone, but not so very old!

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