Youth and Age – “Never Worry About Your Heart Until It Stops Beating”

EB White

Here is a poem by E.B. White, in which he frames the profound difference between the mysteries of youth and the virtually impossible cross currents that old folks must swim through. Namely, we who are gaining in age are in some way neither here nor there, he says (“the going and not going”), a state of precarious consciousness regarding what yet remains to us, and the final curtain to come. Yet he can blithely step back a bit from the edge of the “unbearable knowing and knowing”, as we all must to stay sane, when he says elsewhere, “I am reminded of the advice of my neighbor – ‘Never worry about your heart until it stops beating.’”

Youth and Age, by E. B. White

This is what youth must figure out:
Girls, love, and living.
The having, the not having,
The spending and giving,
And the melancholy time of not knowing.
This is what age must learn about:
The ABC of dying.
The going, yet not going,
The loving and leaving,
And the unbearable knowing and knowing.

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