Briefly examine the theme of fear and hopelessness in the poem, the Panic of Growing Older.
The dominant theme of this poem is that of fear and hopelessness. Many are afraid of growing old. For this, fear takes possession of their lives when at a certain age they have not been able to realize their dreams. At the age of twenty, the individual is full of hope and strength. The dream of success is rife. “At twenty, stilled by the hope of gigantic success, time and exploration”. At this stage, the untapped energies ought to be effectively deployed to achieve this success. If, at “thirty”, nothing happens, “fear” creeps in. pain, caused by nothing takes over the body. Gradually, hopes begin to dwindle and the individual is now confined to “domesticity” as the legs grow feeble. Perhaps, the individual may be lucky to attain the biblical age of seventy, perhaps with three children as may be expected but if one has nothing to show for all these, what hope abounds? Hence the fear to grow old.
Finally, hope without good work is vain because “hope is not a grain of sand”. If one fails to do what is right when it is most appropriate, there will be a dwindling of fortunes one day that will bring about “fear” and “hopelessness.”