Conrad Potter Aiken

(5 August 1889 – 17 August 1973 / Savannah, Georgia)

All Lovely Things


All lovely things will have an ending,
All lovely things will fade and die,
And youth, that's now so bravely spending,
Will beg a penny by and by.

Fine ladies soon are all forgotten,
And goldenrod is dust when dead,
The sweetest flesh and flowers are rotten
And cobwebs tent the brightest head.

Come back, true love! Sweet youth, return!--
But time goes on, and will, unheeding,
Though hands will reach, and eyes will yearn,
And the wild days set true hearts bleeding.

Come back, true love! Sweet youth, remain!--
But goldenrod and daisies wither,
And over them blows autumn rain,
They pass, they pass, and know not whither.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Christine Lapping (1/1/2013 7:03:00 AM)

    So glad I have found this poem again. The line 'and goldenrod is dust when dead' has remained in my memory from when I first read this poem about 45 years ago. It is the written equivalent of Dutch Vanitas painting from the 16th/17th where the subject is a meditation on death and mortality. (Report) Reply

  • Doug Mcpherson (5/13/2006 8:46:00 PM)

    Aiken seems to prove great points with this poem. His use of contrasting images causes the reader to believe his point that all great essential things have an end. His belief that when essential things are passed their prime, they will continue to wither past their climax is very evident towards the end of this poem. Overall, what he seems to say is true, but also can be taken many ways as one can see death after living and another life after living. (Report) Reply

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