Milton! your youthful strife with fickle time,
Expressed with reason and an ancient rhyme,
Is something I endure at twenty-three,
Wishing much more than what I'm meant to be.
Your time was different, when art had class,
When Thought had its respect among the mass.
I know that life is short but fine, when skilled
To see past the dread of living, and ill-willed.
I know that faith is quick to end, as death
Is quick to come – just only with one breath.
And though I'm ignorant of many ways,
I am much wise, because I know my place.
This quantity of wisdom was not a lot
For you, but much for me – yes – this aware Thought.
It was at this age that I had compiled all my poems from my teenage years into a single book, and began a new collection of poems, written in my twenties. I believe beginning this arrangement with this poem, some rhymed couplets, addressing John Milton, the great English poet, who also had written verses on becoming twenty-three, is a meaningful one.
''How soon hath Time the subtle thief of youth
Stoln on his wing my three and twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.''
– John Milton