It is easy to be young. (Everybody is,
at first.) It is not easy
to be old. It takes time.
Youth is given; age is achieved.
One must work a magic to mix with time
insgroupsto become old.
Youth is given. One must put it away
like a doll in a closet,
take it out and play with it only on holidays.
One must have many dresses
and dress the doll impeccably
(but not to show the doll, to keep it hidden.)
It is necessary to adore the doll,
to remember it in the dark on the ordinary
days, and every day congratulate
one’s aging face in the mirror.
In time one will be very old.
In time, one’s life will be accomplished.
And in time, in time, the doll—
like new, though ancient—will be found.
—by May Swenson
A Voice of Imaginative Optimism
May Swenson was born in 1913 in the western United States. After graduating from college, she moved to New York,swheresshe followed a career as a writer, lecturer, and academic. She is best known for her poetry, for which she received numerous awards and prizes, including the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award in 1960 and the Shelley Poetry Award in 1968.
Swenson’s poems are known for their energetic optimism, powerful imagery, and wide ranging subject matter. Her stated aim was to find a way to interpret“the vastness of the unknown”that lay beyond human consciousness. She died in Delaware in 1989.