Sunday, November 15, 2009

Youth -- by Samuel Ullman


A wonderful article on The Art of Manliness website recounts how General Douglas McArthur kept a framed copy of this poem between portraits of Washington and Lincoln on his desk at his headquarters in Manila and in Tokyo when he took over as supreme commander of the allied forces. The poem remains more popular in Japan today that in America.

Youth

By Samuel Ullman

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.

4 comments:

crazy football mom said...

We don't stop laughing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop laughing. Nice poem btw...

Kim Letkeman said...

Reminds me of Fat Bastard ... "I'm unhappy because I eat, and I eat because I'm unhappy" ... yeah, the poem is a perfect reminder to avoid seeing the dark side ... you just grow old before your time.

Donald said...

Man, Sam Ullman had a clue, yes? I love crazy football mom's comment too - the musician's variation is "We don't stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing." Five months from 70 and I'm still excited to play the instrument everytime I get the chance!

Don

Kim Letkeman said...

Donald, excellent variation, thanks!