“Envious Youth” by Helen Rootham

Envious Youth

I am not old enough to claim the privilege of years,
To sit apart and say to youth—
'Now watch my nodding wisdom;
Pay reverence to that you cannot see
Has any claim to reverence but age.'
I am not old enough to say to youth,
'I too once felt like you. But now the years
Sit heavy on my shoulders—therefore you are wrong.'
I cannot fold my hands, and having lived my life
Count with uneasy eyes the heavy, passing hours,
Nursing each minute with unceasing care,
Lest an unwary movement snatch a few from me.
For I am young, and in my glad young veins
The blood runs freely.
I seize each passing hour
And fling it gaily where its fellows lie,
And care not what old age doth call that heap—
The Past—the Present—or To Be.
Why should I care ? All time is mine,
Or should be.
But wise age has held the world,
And turned it round and round,
Until the sudden death that age avoids with anxious care
Lurks in its every corner, and claims
Not age, but me.


Helen Rootham's poem "Envious Youth" was published in the 1916 Wheels anthology. To read this poem in a digitized version of this publication, follow the links below:


Modernist Journals Project