Lucy Vickery

Olden but golden

In Competition No. 2947 you were asked to submit a poem in praise of old age.

Old age gets a bad rap. Only the other week, in these pages, Stewart Dakers questioned our obsession with chasing longevity given the decrepitude and indignities of that final furlong. Here was your chance to put the case for the defence.

The competition certainly struck a chord, if the size of the postbag — from veterans and newbies alike — is anything to go by. It was a lively and cheering entry, infused with the spirit of the purple-wearing heroine of Jenny Joseph’s poem ‘Warning’ (‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple…’) and a far cry from Larkin’s ‘Old Fools’. There’s no bonus fiver on offer this week, so those printed must be content with £25 apiece.

Those mornings festering in your pit;
Those idle afternoons;
Those dentures with a perfect fit;
Those hours in Wetherspoons…
A whole utopic universe
Unfolds when you are old,
And you may mutter, groan and curse,
But really you’ve struck gold.
To profit from it just behave
As helpless or insane
(For instance, gibber, drool and wave
Your walking stick or cane.)
Senescence is a happy fate;
You never have to rough it.
Manipulate, manipulate,
Like Daleks till you snuff it.
Basil Ransome-Davies
Do not go gentle into that good night.
At least beat up a few before you go.
A Shaolin monk can be a fearsome sight.
White hairs and ageing joints don’t stop the flow.
Years of Kung Fu have helped him do it right,
A little violence gives a youthful glow.
Marquess of Queensberry rules or dirty fight?
Who cares? Who dares will win. Is that not so?
Forget all tolerance, do not take shite.
Kick out against the pricks, put on a show.

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