Upon a Venerable Rival

Full thirty frosts since thou wert young
   Have chill'd the wither'd grove,
Thou wretch! and hast thou liv'd so long,
   Nor yet forgot to love?

Ye Sages! spite of your pretences
   To wisdom, you must own
Your folly frequently commences
   When you acknowledge none.

Not that I deem it weak to love,
   Or folly to admire,
But ah! the pangs we lovers prove
   Far other years require.

Unheeded on the youthful brow
   The beams of Phoebus play,
But unsupported Age stoops low
   Beneath the sultry ray.

For once, then, if untutor'd youth,
   Youth unapprov'd by years,
May chance to deviate into truth,
   When your experience errs;

For once attempt not to despise
   What I esteem a rule:
Who early loves, though young, is wise -
   Who old, though gray, a fool.

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.