It is you who must pursue the violet-scented Muse
By Sappho (Translation by Mary Maxwell)
It is you who must pursue the violet-scented Muse with her gifts of beauty,
my young students, as well as continue to play a clear and melodious lyre.
I was lithesome once, but time and age have taken my body in their grasp,
and from glossy blackness my hair has been turned by them to brittle white.
Heavy my heart has become; my knees no longer can carry me; nor do I
dance as I did, in my once upon a time, as quick and supple as a fawn.
These things I bewail with every groaning breath, but what is there to do?
Agelessness is not a fate that comes to humans. Even, they say, the rosy arms
of goddess Dawn stretched to embrace handsome Tithonus. Madly
in love, she carried the virile young man all the way back to her home
at the edge of the world. Yet old age managed to get hold of him even there;
zealous, hoary-bearded Time finds even the bed partners of the immortals.
This poem reminds me of a poem on the same subject by Tennyson: Tithonus. Too long to put in full here.
The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,
Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Me only cruel immortality
Consumes: I wither slowly in thine arms,
Here at the quiet limit of the world
It also reminds me of that one-hit-wonder by the Connels '74-75' ('I was the one who let you know, I was your sorry ever after') about love and age. That's a great song.