William Butler Yeats

Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad?

Why should not old men be mad? Some have known a likely lad That had a sound fly-fisher's wrist Turn to a drunken journalist; A girl that knew all Dante once Live to bear children to a dunce; A Helen of social welfare dream, Climb on a wagonette to scream. Some think it a matter of course that chance Should starve good men and bad advance, That if their neighbours figured plain, As though upon a lighted screen, No single story would they find Of an unbroken happy mind, A finish worthy of the start. Young men know nothing of this sort, Observant old men know it well; And when they know what old books tell And that no better can be had, Know why an old man should be mad.

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