2 Stanza OneOld man, once sturdy as a mountain Now fragile as a twig. It is many years and many storms till a mountain is worn But a twig can suddenly go snap
3 What is Important? “Old man, once sturdy as a mountain” A mountain is large, solid, and strong.The poet is comparing the man to a mountain when he was younger. He was a solid and strong person.“Now fragile as a twig”A twig is weak, frail, and fragile.The poet is saying that the Old Man is now weak, frail and fragile.
4 “It is many years and many storms till a mountain is worn” The poet is talking about the process of erosionOver a very long period of time, something as huge and solid as a mountain can be weakened.The poet is referring to the Old Man here, implying that after a long and hard life, that he has also been weakened.Life has worn him out!“But a twig can suddenly go snap”A twig is weak and it doesn’t take much to break one.She is saying that the Old Man is weak and that he might ‘break’, or die, any time soon.
5 Stanza TwoOld man, whose white beard is tangled like a net Meshed and tangled is he Tangled like old yarn But yarn can be snagged.
6 What is Important?“Old man, whose white beard is tangled like a net Meshed and tangled is he”The poet is talking about his beard. She is saying that it is tangled and messy.We are given the impression that the Old Man is too frail and weak to take care of himself.“Tangled like old yarn But yarn can be snagged.”The poet is comparing his beard to tangled yarn.If you put too much pressure on yarn it can snag and become even weaker
7 Stanza ThreeOld man, whose face is gnarled like an old tree Gnarled and cracked his face is Like a rotted tree stump But a rotted tree stump can crumble to dust.
8 What is Important?“Old man, whose face is gnarled like an old tree Gnarled and cracked his face is Like a rotted tree stump”The poet is comparing the Old Man’s face to an old tree. His face has as many lines in it as an old tree has.“But a rotted tree stump can crumble to dust.”The poet is recognising how easy it is for a rotting tree to fall apart. She feels that it will also be easy for the Old Man to fall apart, or to die.
9 Stanza FourOld man, how many snaps can you withstand? How much more snapping? How long will this go on? Before you too crumble into dust?
10 What is Important?In this stanza, the poet is asking questions. She is asking questions that she does not know the answer to.There is a tone of desperation here; she is scared and worried about when the Old Man might die.She seems really frightened about the idea of this.The line “How much more snapping?” gives us the impression that the Old Man has endured a lot of hardship, that he has had an awful lot to deal with throughout his life.There is also some anger in this line. She is frustrated with what he has had to go through and doesn’t think that it is fair that he has had so much to deal with.
11 “How long will this go on? Before you too crumble into dust?” The poet is referring to her earlier comparison of the Old Man and the “rotted tree stump” from stanza three.She wants the Old Man’s suffering to end but there is a very sad tone to the way she says it.The poet seems to be in two minds. She is saddened by how the Old Man has spent quite a lot of time suffering and growing weak. She wants his suffering to end but seems to be afraid of what that will feel like. She doesn’t want to see him “crumble” but she accepts that this is the way of nature and the way of life.
12 Theme of Poem – Points worth Discussing AgingOld AgeThe poet discusses the aging process of an Old ManShe describes the weakness that comes with old age by comparing the Old Man to many frail things.The poet describes old age very effectively in the poem.With the use of similes, the poet makes it very easy for us to picture just how weak and frail the Old Man really is.Higher Level: It is interesting to look at how the poet only talks about the Old Man’s physical strength. She never discusses his character, or how able the Old Man is mentally. This is something that we, as a society, are guilty of doing. We assume that older generations are weak and unable to care for themselves. We do not stop to think of how well able they might be in other areas of their lives.