Grapes, Wine, and Vinegar
by William Allingham (1824-1889)
Weary and wasted, nigh worn-out,
You sigh and shake white hairs, and say,
“Ah, you will find the truth one day
Of life and nature, do not doubt!”
Age rhymes to sage, and let us give
The hoary head its honours due:
Grant youth its privileges too,
And notions how to think and live.
Which has more chance to see aright
The many-colour’d shows of time,
Fresh human eyes in healthy prime
Or custom-dull’d and fading sight?
Gone from the primrose and the rose
Their diversely delicious breath,
Since no fine wafting visiteth
An old, perhaps a snuffy, nose!
Youth has its truth: I’d rather trust,
Of two extremes, the ardent boy,
Excess of life and hope and joy,
Than this dejection and disgust.
Vinegar of experience — “drink!”
Why so, and set our teeth on edge?
Nay, even grant what you allege,
We’ll not anticipate, I think.
Who miss’d, or loses, earlier truth,
Though old, we shall not count him sage:
Rare the strong mellow’d wine of age
From sunshine-ripen’d grapes of youth.