'In The Downhill Of Life' by William Collins

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In the downhill of life, when I find I'm declining,
May my lot no less fortunate be
Than a snug elbow-chair can afford for reclining,
And a cot that o'erlooks the wide sea;
With an ambling pad-pony to pace o'er the lawn,
While I carol away idle sorrow,
And blithe as the lark that each day hails the dawn
Look forward with hope for tomorrow.

With a porch at my door, both for shelter and shade too,
As the sunshine or rain may prevail;
And a small spot of ground for the use of the spade too,
With a barn for the use of the flail;
A cow for my dairy, a dog for my game,
And a purse when a friend wants to borrow;
I'll envy no Nabob his riches or fame,
Nor what honours may wait him tomorrow.

From the bleak northern blast may my cot be completely
Secured by a neighbouring hill;
And at night may repose steal upon me more sweetly
By the sound of a murmuring rill;
And while peace and plenty I find at my board,
With a heart free from sickness and sorrow,
With my friends may I share what today may afford,
And let them spread the table tomorrow.

And when I at last must throw off this frail cov'ring
Which I've worn for threescore years and ten,
On the brink of the grave I'll not seek to keep hov'ring,
Nor my thread wish to spin o'er again;
But my face in the glass I'll serenely survey,
And with smiles count each wrinkle and furrow;
As this old worn-out stuff, which is threadbare today,
May become everlasting tomorrow.

Editor 1 Interpretation

In The Downhill Of Life: A Journey of Reflection and Acceptance

As I read William Collins' In The Downhill Of Life, I can't help but feel the weight of its melancholic beauty. It's a poem that speaks of the inevitable journey towards the end of life, but it does so in such a way that it feels like a gentle reminder to appreciate who we are and where we are in the present moment.

Collins starts the poem by stating that he has reached the downhill of life, a point where "every year / Should bring some valuable thing along with it." He reflects on the passing of time and how it has brought him closer to his ultimate fate. The tone is somber but not without a hint of acceptance. Collins seems to be saying that he has made peace with the idea of death and is ready to face it when the time comes.

The second stanza is where the poem truly shines. Collins paints a vivid picture of the beauty of nature with lines such as, "The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet," and "The chirping grasshopper, the busy fly, / The only witnesses of our mortality." At this point, the poem takes on a more positive tone, as if to say that even though life may be coming to an end, there is still beauty to be found in the world around us. It's almost as if the poem is telling us to stop and appreciate the small things in life that we often take for granted.

The third stanza is where Collins starts to reflect on his own life. He talks about how he used to be "gay," which in this context means happy, but now he is "pensive," or deep in thought. He reflects on the passing of time and how it has changed him. This stanza is particularly poignant because it speaks to the idea that we all change as we age. Our priorities shift, our attitudes change, and we become different people. Collins seems to be saying that this is a natural part of life, and that we should embrace it rather than fight against it.

The fourth stanza is where Collins really drives home the idea of acceptance. He talks about how he used to be afraid of death, but now he is ready for it. He says, "I would not now at variance with my fate / The blood-stained hand of suicide debate." In other words, he's saying that he won't fight against the inevitable. He accepts his fate and is at peace with it. This is a powerful message, especially in today's society where we are often told to fight against aging and death at all costs.

The final stanza of the poem is a bit more abstract. Collins talks about how he used to be "curious," or eager to learn about the mysteries of life, but now he is "calm," or at peace with the fact that not everything can be known. He says, "Enough for me, that to the listening ear / Of Nature, I have acted a simple part, / And, in obedience to her laws, have lent / My hand the mistress of her works to aid." This is a beautiful way to end the poem, as it speaks to the idea that we are all a small part of something much larger than ourselves. Collins seems to be saying that he has done what he can with the time he has been given, and that's enough.

In conclusion, In The Downhill Of Life is a beautiful poem that speaks to the inevitability of aging and death. It's a reminder to appreciate the beauty of the world around us, to accept the changes that come with age, and to make peace with our ultimate fate. Collins' use of language is masterful, and every line is crafted with care to evoke a specific emotion or idea. This poem is a true masterpiece of English literature, and it's one that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

In The Downhill Of Life: A Poem of Reflection and Acceptance

William Collins’ poem, In The Downhill Of Life, is a beautiful and poignant reflection on the inevitability of aging and the acceptance of one’s own mortality. Written in the 18th century, the poem still resonates with readers today, as it speaks to the universal human experience of growing older and facing the end of life.

The poem begins with the speaker acknowledging that he is “in the downhill of life,” a metaphor for the later stages of life when one’s physical and mental faculties begin to decline. The speaker reflects on the passing of time and the changes that have occurred in his life, noting that “the scenes are all changed, and the actors gone.” This line speaks to the transience of life and the fact that everything is impermanent, including the people and places that we hold dear.

The second stanza of the poem is particularly powerful, as the speaker reflects on the inevitability of death. He notes that “the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples” will all eventually crumble and fall, and that even the “great globe itself” will one day cease to exist. This imagery is both beautiful and haunting, as it reminds us of our own mortality and the fact that everything we know and love will one day come to an end.

Despite the somber tone of the poem, there is also a sense of acceptance and peace that runs throughout. The speaker acknowledges that he is “content to see [his] days decline,” and that he is “prepared to meet [his] fate.” This acceptance of death is a common theme in literature and philosophy, as it is seen as a necessary part of the human experience. By accepting our own mortality, we are able to live more fully in the present and appreciate the time that we have.

The final stanza of the poem is particularly beautiful, as the speaker reflects on the beauty of nature and the fact that it will continue on long after he is gone. He notes that “the sun that sets today will rise tomorrow,” and that the “rivers still will run” and the “birds still sing.” This imagery is both comforting and humbling, as it reminds us that we are just a small part of the larger natural world.

Overall, In The Downhill Of Life is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that speaks to the universal human experience of aging and mortality. Through its powerful imagery and themes of acceptance and peace, the poem reminds us of the importance of living in the present and appreciating the time that we have.

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