Don’t have a lot of time to expand on today’s poem, but for formality, well, it’s 3 ABAB quatrains, with a loose-limbed rhythm that seems to skip around among 4- to 6-beated lines. And there’s some nice internal rhyme. It’s by Stanley Kunitz (“inky zeal stunt”), who did die old, very old, but wrote this out of his younger self. I can’t quite figure out a date for it; it’s from a selected poems that was revised and re-published from about 1930 to 1978.
Later in his career Stanley Kunitz shifted away from formal verse–but hey, when you start publishing in the 1920s I guess you start with the classics, right? -ed.
I Dreamed That I Was Old
I dreamed that I was old: in stale declension
Fallen from my prime, when company
Was mine, cat-nimbleness, and green invention,
Before time took my leafy hours away.
My wisdom, ripe with body’s ruin, found
Itself tart recompense for what was lost
In false exchange: since wisdom in the ground
Has no apocalypse or pentecost.
I wept for my youth, sweet passionate young thought,
And cozy women dead that by my side
Once lay: I wept with bitter longing, not
Remembering how in my youth I cried.