The Seafarer Old Age Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
[…] he knows that his old friends,
the sons of princes, have been given to the earth. (92-93)
As it turns out, aging comes with a whole pile of emotional suffering, too. Even the most powerful people, like "sons of princes" will eventually kick the bucket, and their friends will have to say goodbye.
His body fails then, as life leaves him—
he cannot taste sweetness nor feel pain,
nor move his hand nor think with his head. (94-96)
Just as age was an independent force that "came upon" a man, so here is life a force that can come and go at will, at this point departing from the failing body. If there's one thing that's sure in this poem, it's that man doesn't seem to have any control at all over what's happening to him. So why, then, make the effort to live humbly if you don't have any power in the first place?
Though he would strew the grave with gold,
a brother for his kinsman, bury with the dead
a mass of treasure, it just won't work— (97-99)
The elderly person who watches his friend die attempts to provide him with gold as a form of comfort. This gold is almost like a substitute for the elderly person himself, who would like to accompany his friend in death as he did in life. Yet the process ultimately fails, since no one can carry wealth with him beyond the grave. You can't take it with you.