When I was twenty-three I couldAmen, Eden! How to explain this temperament that comes on many with age? Is it hormonal? Is it from so many years of negotiating with people of all different kinds? Is it a desire for comfort and easy socialization after scuffling with the world? Is it the cynicism of seeing all your sacred cows get tipped over -- one by one -- by their critical inadequacies?
Discern the evil from the good;
I quickly knew which way to turn,
Which path to take, which path to spurn;
Not only this--I could decide
What all my friends should do; I tried
To steer them competently through
Their troubles...and they asked me to!
Responsible as traffic lights
I sent them to their lefts...and rights.
But now that I am forty-odd
I hesitate advising God
About a case of turpitude,
It somehow seems a little crude:
And furthermore I have no views
On bigamy or jazz or booze:
Quite recently I was beset
By problems in a kitchenette--
I could not choose the proper site
For dish-towels to dry at night!
I think it's all of the above. I still have the knee-jerk desire to bludgeon others with my opinions, but I'm learning when it's appropriate to do so, and also -- I hope -- blunting the edges of my criticism a bit.
Unless I'm playing the ROLE of critic, of course.
PS: Who was Patience Eden? Apparently her real name was Martha Thomas Banning, but other than that I can't find any biographical information. She was certainly one of the New Yorker poetry stalwarts, writing under both names from the magazine's inception and into the early '40s.