How we cite our quotes:
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace. (44-45)
Here, youth is expressed as children green and golden. Although it's sin that casts man and woman out of Eden, in this poem, it's time that leads children out of youth. So, for the speaker, youth is a kind of innocence, which is lost as the speaker grows older. In other words, youth sounds like perfection, and everything else is just… not.
Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me (46)
The speaker says, "the lamb white days," which suggests innocence and purity. On the other hand, associating youth with "lamb" could allude to the idea of a lamb being led to slaughter. Just as time is leading youth away, so is the innocence of youth being destroyed by time. What was originally a time of great confidence has begun to shift to a time of vulnerability and naïveté.
Oh I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea. (52-54)
The speaker finally directly says, "I was young." We know this by now, but it's almost like a confession of sorts. Whereas earlier in the poem, youth is referenced in figurative language, here the speaker says directly that the past was his youth. While he was living it, youth was a magical time. But now, at the end of the poem, the speaker sees that time with more clarity.
The final two lines are a reference to youth as well, but with a different tone than the rest of the poem. Here, the speaker is no longer free, but "in chains like the sea." From the viewpoint of an older, wiser person, he sees his youth as a time mixed with good and bad, a bittersweet golden age that would inevitably pass.