Sunday, May 06, 2007

Change & decay

The gloomful sense of transience and mortality is something that tends to settle darkly upon the soul in 'middle age'. It is probably intensified by living in a place such as Beijing, where there is such an unusually high rate of 'churn' amongst one's friends.

Then was it coincidence or some kind of subconsciously targeted nostalgia that turned up in today's browsing this maudlin old classic from Charles Lamb?


The Old Familiar Faces

I have had playmates, I have had companions
In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have been laughing, I have been carousing,
Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies;
All, are are gone, the old familiar faces.

I loved a love once, fairest among women:
Closed are her doors on me, I must not see her -
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man:
Like an ingrate, I left my friend abruptly;
Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.

Ghost-like I paced round the haunts of my childhood,
Earth seem'd a desert I was bound to traverse,
Seeking to find the old familiar faces.

Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,
Why wert not thou born in my father's dwelling?
So might we talk of the old familiar faces.

How some they have died, and some they have left me,
And some are taken from me; all are departed;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

Charles Lamb (1775-1834)

1 comment:

Tulsa said...

The gloomful sense of transience and mortality rests in the soul of all who choose to live in high turnover towns (and who choose to move around).

My great friends of past from various cities and scenes will sometimes blend together so that I no longer recall who was the Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast and who believed in ghosts... were they the same person? Did I discover this coffee shop with X? before or after coming here with Y? Even the sequence can get muddled.

My playmates, my companions, eventually fuse into one great friend, whose memories I cherish the most during random moments of solitude.