Remember the Good Times Not the Heart Ache

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"That on the ashes of his youth doth lie/ As the death-bed whereon it must expire" (10-11).

            It seems as though the narrator is depressed and wallowing in self pity over a time when he feels he lost his innocence and purity. Perhaps this loss of innocence was sexual or more along the lines of Colin's "On Turning Ten" where his eyes were simply open to the hardships of life.  The narrator seems to be watching this stage occur in a boy's life as he says, "In me thou seest the twilight of such day/ As after sunset fadeth in the West, Which by and by black night doth take away" (5-7). He sees the glimmer of childhood leaving this young man's life day in and day out as he matures and grows into adulthood. The narrator seems to speak with a pessimistic tone as he remembers how he left his childhood and is now watching it occur in someone else's life.

            This is what I interpreted from the poem the first time I read it; however, the last two lines question my analysis. "This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong/ To love that well, which thou must leave ere long" (13-14). Perhaps the narrator did lose his innocence when he engaged in a relationship with a woman and is recalling the love he felt. Perhaps the relationship did not work out; therefore, he looks at the young man with pity because he thinks he will be hurt by a woman as well. However, the couplet strikes a new tone. The narrator seems to be remembering the good times he shared with the woman despite the unhappy ending. Rather than continuing to wallow in self pity, he seems grateful for the good times.


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