Famous Life Poem

As time passes, life changes. As people age, they become more reminiscent as they move farther from their childhoods. This poem shows the actions of a man entering the second half of his life. The poem is split into stanzas, but they do not follow a specific rhyme scheme. Donald Justice (1925-2004) was a teacher of poetry, and he experimented with and mastered a variety of poetic techniques.

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Men At Forty

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Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,
They feel it
Moving beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors
They rediscover
The face of the boy as he practices trying
His father’s tie there in secret

And the face of that father,
Still warm with the mystery of lather.
They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
Something is filling them, something

That is like the twilight sound
Of the crickets, immense,
Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
Behind their mortgaged houses.

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