Tuesday, September 24

The Young Soul Of The Cranky Old Man

Sad old man

Here's something I saw on a comment from Elizabeth. I gather it has been doing the Internet rounds:

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . ... . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . ... lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. ...Babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future ... . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I've known.
I'm now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man.
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. .... . ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!


The best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart!

~ Elizabeth

I've nothing to add, the poem says it all.

Other 67 Not Out Posts:
Are We Pre-Programmed For Limitation And Death
The Dress For The Aged Coincidence
A Secret Freemasons View Of Old Age And Death

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  1. Oh, I had tears in my eyes at the end.

  2. It's a nice poem and something to think about for sure,but I have an older brother that was born sub-normal
    (and I'm 49,as of yesterday) and his whole life has virtually been the life of that old man.
    My brother can't talk,write or can't/won't go to the toilet
    (he is still in nappies),he is like a fully grown toddler.
    So when I read that poem I see a man who led a more fortunate life than my brother will and I hope he was looking back on his life with gratitude rather than regret.
    Some souls truly are imprisoned for life,and death must be a relief to those souls in some way when it arrives.
    I say we should give thanks for every moment we have our health and independence and remember that some souls will never have a chance to recount a life as fortunate as this man had,even if the last years weren't so great.
    Make hay while the sun shines,because it doesn't shine for long in the span of one life.
    I guess that's where the power of now comes to the fore,
    because really that's all we have now,don't we ?
    Most of us...me included,don't realize what we had until it is gone.

    1. A sad story about your brother and you are right all we have is 'now' but we also have memories - the food stuff of the old, as I once called it in a poem.

      I guess though this poem is more about how we see old people, we don't always see the real them - their souls if you like. I learnt this myself when my mum had to go into a Nursing Home. I got to know some of the old ladies and their lives and it opened my eyes to who they really were.

    2. I know the poem's about old people and how this guy realizes he is an ageless soul trapped in an old man's body.I'm just extending his viewpoint to the broader world of souls just as ageless and self-aware as he is,trapped in bodies that are judged as somehow less than human by the majority of humanity,whether it be the "retard",the homeless guy sleeping in a cardboard box on the street,or the refugee on a boat.
      We should take the first lines of his poem -
      "What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
      What are you thinking .. . when you're looking at me?" and apply it to the broader areas of humanity as well when we are looking at people (and maybe even animals,like the animals in a zoo) and realize that there is a soul just like our soul in that body.
      His last line -"So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
      Not a...[insert whatever]...(cranky old man).
      Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. .... . ME!! (you ?)"

      I know this particular poem is about a cranky old man,but it could easily be about a homeless guy,a retarded person...or even a dolphin performing at Seaworld.
      This guy's poem reminds me of the book
      "The Diving-bell and the Butterfly"
      ,where this real life guy wrote the whole book through blinking his eye,because that was the only thing he could move on his paralyzed body.
      There is a French film with the same title that was made from the book and rams home everything and more that the poem above is expressing -


      I highly recommend this movie as well as this movie -
      "On a Clear Day", just for the scene of the retarded boy swimming in the pool with the guy who is training to swim the channel.Both very powerful movies to make all of us think about life just that little bit more.


    3. I take your point about the wider aspect of the poem beyond Old Age. Yes, you could apply this to a whole range of human circumstances and, yes, animals as well.

      I don't think 'we' always do see the 'me' in others. I remember many years ago, 10 or 15 perhaps, getting into the habit of saying Namaste to everyone I met - though silently to myself. Never had the guts then to say it aloud.

      At the time I understood it to mean 'the spirit in me recognises the spirit in you.' Though since I've heard many other interpretations.

      Thanks for expanding the viewpoint, something more to think about!

    4. "At the time I understood it to mean 'the spirit in me recognises the spirit in you" "
      I think that line sums it up beautifully Mike.

  3. I probably should have written "have" instead of "had" in that last line in my comment above,but by the time I realized my error I had pushed the publish button and it was gone.
    Oh,well,I had my chance I guess ?
    Such is life .-)

  4. Wow, that poem is powerful. We'll post it, too. It reminded me of my parents in their 80s and 90s, my mother with Alzheimer's, my dad with Parkinson's. The story about your brother is sad, Daz.

    1. It is powerful Trish, it reminded me of my mum and dad.