Neither!

A poem by Rose Hawthorne Lathrop

So ancient to myself I seem,
I might have crossed grave Styx's stream
A year ago; -
My word, 'tis so; -
And now be wandering with my sires
In that rare world we wonder o'er,
Half disbelieve, and prize the more!

Yet spruce I am, and still can mix
My wits with all the sparkling tricks,
A youth and girl
At twenty's whirl
Play round each other's bosom fires,
On this brisk earth I once enjoyed: -
But now I'm otherwise employed!

Am I a thing without a name;
A sort of dummy in the game?
"Not young, not old:"
A world is told
Of misery in that lengthened phrase;
Yet, gad, although my coat be smooth,
My forehead's wrinkled, - that's the truth!

I hardly know which road to go.
With youth? Perhaps. With age? Oh no!
Well, then, with those
Who share my woes,
Doomed to mere fashionable ways, -
Fair matrons, cigarettes, and tea,
Sighs, mirrors, and society?

Is it a folly still to twirl,
And smirk and promenade and querl
About the town?
I'll put this down:
A man becomes downright blast
Before he knows that he is either
That, or what I am - call it, "Neither."

Oh, for a hint what we shall do,
We bucks whose comedy is through!
Who'd be sedate?
And yet I hate
To pose persistently to-day
As one just trying flights, you know,
When I did try them long ago!

Suppose I hurry up the tide
Of age, and bravely drift beside
Those hoary dogs
Who lie like logs
Around the clubs where life is hushed?
My blood runs cold! What? Say farewell
To this year's new bewildering belle!

Hold, man, the secret broad and huge,
With every well-known subterfuge!
If bald and gray
And thin, still say
You're only thirty: don't be crushed;
But when your voice shakes o'er a pun,
Be off to China: - your day's done!

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