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Youth and Age: Regaining the Soul

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14 April 2015 by romanin

I want to share a bit about a poem I read recently.  The poem is by Lord Byron, or George Gordon (same person).  It is called youth and age.  Sometimes poetry is a little tough to understand because the English used is, well, poetic, so it took me a few times reading it to get it, but when I did it made me think hard.  First, I’ll present the poem:

YouthandAge

This poem hit me because it is about loosing your passion, loosing your heart.  I want to share my thoughts on the poem.  To do so, I am going to break the stanzas up and name them to make discussion easier:

1: The Problem

2: The Cause

3: The Effect

4: The Band aid

5: The Cry for Help

The Problem –

The first stanza introduces the problem.  That “the glow of early thought declines in feeling’s dull decay” and that “the tender bloom of heart is gone, ere youth itself be past.” The light and life emitting glow of early thought and the bloom of heart, the author says, fades with age.  So as one gets older, one looses one’s innocence and in some ways, one’s heart, or I could argue, one’s very soul.  In other words, people become cynical and calloused, perhaps even ashamed of the compassion that was once there.

The Cause – 

The second stanza describes the cause.  Dreams of happiness dashed, and the world’s laying upon one guilt and shame and the illusion of satisfaction that materialism brings: all these things drag a person down and whisper lies until “the magnet of [one’s] course is gone” and the compass of our hearts no longer works.  The idea of true purpose is lost, perhaps even identity  Lost to the lies that the world tells people, and people tell themselves.  People become jaded and cynical.

The Effect –

Men [and women] become desensitized and turn their hearts off, or ignore them.  People become stony as the “mortal coldness of the soul” comes down.  That which used to move, to drive, or to stir compassion no longer has sway; the chill of cynicism has frozen over “the fountain of our tears.”  People no longer care for one another with the depth they once did.  Further, it says that people won’t even recognize their own pain: “it cannot feel for others woes, it dare not dream its own.”

The Band aid –

So what do we do if this happens to us?  We cover it up with smiles, stories, parties, and the illusion that everything is OK.

Have you ever been there?  I know I have.

Blame what you will, but I myself have chosen at points in my past to ignore the compassion in my heat in an effort to seem more “cool” or “grown up.”  When I say “I myself” I mean to emphasize the fact that despite the factors that romanced me into the state of cynicism I’ve found myself in, at the end of the day, it was my choice to choose the world over truth.  And in so doing, I have given up pieces of myself along the way.

Have you ever been there?

Wit flashing from fluent lips and “mirth” or partying at night in an elaborate display that everything is alright: all of this a facade like that of fresh ivy leaves burying the thick host of death and decay underneath.  Just so we cover the darker parts of our hearts and our perceived selves with plastic smiles.

The Cry for Help – 

In this final stanza, the author longs for those tears again; longs for the passion and compassion to be rekindled in his heart, longs to reverse all of those decisions that have brought cynicism to his doorstep, and I would say, longs to be real again.

“Men don’t cry”

“People here in America need help, we have to help ourselves before others”

“The poor are poor because they refuse to work hard, it’s their own fault”

“The problems in Southeast Asia and in Africa and the Middle East, they aren’t my problems; I have my own problems”

“Your career choice should be based on the paycheck”

“It’s best not to bet preoccupied by the events in the news, you have enough to worry about.”

“If you choose to chase after this crazy dream, what will people think?”

“Do you know what artists do?  They starve!”

Do you ever hear these voices?  THEY LIE!  I would guess that most people reading this can identify with what I’m feeling after reading this poem.  My desire is to get my heart back… All of it!

Many of you will say that my current occupation proves that I have done just that, but you are partially right… maybe.  In truth, I have a long way to go.  But if there is one thing I believe about sin, it’s that a Christian should struggle with sin.  Not struggling with sin means submitting to sin.  As long as we have these fleshly bodies and we live in this world full of it, we will struggle with sin.

I believe that getting one’s heart back begins with prayer and empathy.  Both of which, despite popular opinion, can be practiced and improved upon.  I want to train my mind and my heart with prayer and empathy in deeper and deeper ways.

I don’t know if I have written terribly clearly, I know I could say a lot more.  Hopefully I’ve at least written honestly.

Feel free to let me know what you think.

-Nick

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One thought on “Youth and Age: Regaining the Soul

  1. Beverly Michalski says:

    Wow!! Quite impressive analysis and application. I can see why you would fit in so well into the University setting with ministry to Chinese or other serious students. God bless you as you serve Him.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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