A Song of Experience
Now I am old I remember everything
How doors swing shut and why the wild woods sing
What felt like loss and what deceived as gain
How ecstasy could masquerade as pain
How what you’ve learned that’s valuable stays in you
And who it was whose keepsake dwells within you
What the monastery gardener meant to say
And how to dance all night and all the day
How to read the angry guardian deities’ smile
And cope with the sergeant-major’s sweating guile
How seasoned wreck-survivors tell their tale
While calling for another jug of ale.
I reached the end of my tether long ago
And laugh to see there’s still more time to grow.
I get exhausted with people telling me about how poor older people’s memories are; what is really the case is that we have more to remember than the young, and mostly we do it pretty well. That is what spurred this poem; its title is of course a nod to Blake, one of the greatest poetry of human experience.