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  1. #1
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    Question Grow Old Along With Me

    Grow old along with me!
    The best is yet to be,
    The last of life, for which the first was made:
    Our times are in His hand
    Who saith "A whole I planned,
    Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"

    Dear Teacher,

    Please help me out with the following questions. Thanks in advance.

    Regards,

    Flora


    Q1. What is the meaning of the following sentence? What is “ the best” referred here?
    The best is yet to be

    Q2. What is the meaning of “ for which the first was made” ? What is “ the first referred here” , is “ for which” an attributive clause here?
    Q3. Why did the writer use plural form of “time”? Is it “time” an uncountable noun as “ time of clock”?
    Q4. saith= said (old English?)
    Q5. What is the meaning of “ A whole I planned”? “ I” =God ?
    A whole I planned= God create everything?

    Q6. What is the meaning of “ youth shows but half” ?
    Q7. See all? Nor be afraid? What is the meaning of this? Don’t be afraid of getting old?

  2. #2
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Grow Old Along With Me

    1/2 something in the future- it's about love and how times may be good now, but will get even better- the last is heaven, so the first would be the existence on earth
    3- It can be used in the plural- each person has a time (lifespan) and God will end it when he sees fit
    4 yes
    5 Yes- God planned it all
    6 Youth doesn't show us all the wonders of life- trust God, don't be scared and experience what age brings

  3. #3
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    Smile Re: Grow Old Along With Me

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    1/2 something in the future- it's about love and how times may be good now, but will get even better- the last is heaven, so the first
    Dear Mr.Tdol,

    Thanks for your kind help. I am still not very clear at your above interpretation which I quote about the third line especially. Would you please clarify it further?

    Regards,
    Flora

    A. The heaven is the best? But on the other hand, heaven means death, dosen't it?

    B. How to understand the grammar of the below line? I am not good at grammar.

    The last of life, for which the first was made:
    The first was made for the last of life?

    the first = youth,energy etc. ? the last of life = heaven, death, old etc.?

  4. #4
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    Smile Re: Grow Old Along With Me

    Not that, amassing flowers,
    Youth sighed "Which rose make ours,
    Which lily leave and then as best recall?"
    Not that, admiring stars,
    It yearned "Nor Jove, nor Mars;
    Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!"
    Q8. What are " Jove and Mars" symbolized here? Why do we admire stars?

    It yearned? What does "it" stand for?

    Q9. What is the meaning of last line of this stanza? That is " Mine be ...them all".

    Q10. Do the first three lines of this stanza mean that youth, which is full of love, romantics, flowers etc, has past and becomes good memory only?

    rose = love? lily = innocence?

    I hope to learn your interpretation about this too.


    Thanks a lot!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Grow Old Along With Me

    Flora, that particular poem (Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning) is dramatic monologue. It's about an elderly man (Rabbi Ben Ezra) counsel(l)ing a younger and less experienced man on the meaning of life. Youth may appear or seem to the be-all-and-end-all of one's existence, but it's not, suggests Rabbi Ben Ezra. Rather, Youth prepares us for our future, so take heed.

    A1: The best (part of your life) is yet to come. That time when you can draw from and utilize the knowledge from the experiences you've learned.

    A2: The first (part of your life) - your youth. The last (part) of (your) life
    - your adulthood and senior years.

    A3. "Our times =" our days, years, our life's span.

    A4. "saith" is taken from the word of God; e.g., the Bible. Note that, Ben Ezra is a Rabbi. He's quoting from a religious text.

    A5. "A whole I planned" = God has planned a complete life for us. In other words, say, first we go to school, then we practise what we know. School prepares us for our career in the same way that Youth is suppose to prepare us for our future. School and Youth are (the first) part of the whole. "the whole" is the complete cycle of learning. One must use one's time as a youth wisely because its purpose is to prepare one for the future. That is Rabbi Ben Ezra's message to the young man he's counsel(l)ing.

    A6. "youth shows but half" (See A5)

    A7. "see all, nor be afraid!" means, look at the bigger picture. The end of youth is not the end of one's life -rather, it's just the beginning. It's the portion of our life that prepares us for our future. So, don't be afraid of getting old or of old age. Look forward to it! Most importantly, prepare for it. Now is the time.

  6. #6
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    Smile Re: Grow Old Along With Me

    Dear Mr. Casiopea,

    I appreciate your interpretations of first stanza. One question here. Rabbi Ben Ezra was a Jewish, I suppose his faith was Judaism, while Robert Browning was an English, he was a Christian, wasn't he? So why did Robert Browning use a Jewish mouthpiece to counsel the young on the meaning of life though Rabbi Ben Ezra was well-learned? And was Rabbi Ben Ezra famous in Europe or Britain during the time of Robert Browning?

    And would you please answer my other questions of the second stanza above? I have little questions on the first stanza now.

    Thanks again!

    Regards,

    Flora
    Last edited by florazheng1015; 11-Apr-2006 at 02:11.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Grow Old Along With Me

    "Ben Ezra, a Spanish Jew who lived in the twelfth century, was a distinguished scholar. In this poem, however, Browning does not build on historic facts. He simply needed, as the mouthpiece of the ideas of the poem, a theist familiar with the Scriptures. The point of view is the antithesis of that of the Epicurean and Sceptic, the man who lives for the passing moment."
    Source: http://www.rpo.library.utoronto.co/poem/295.html

    About Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra
    http://www.ou.org/about/judaism/rabbis/ibnezra.htm
    => He was an optimist.

    About Robert Browning
    http://www.blackmask.com/thatway/books/164c/robro.htm
    => He had deep Hebraic interests.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flora
    And would you please answer my other questions of the second stanza above? I have little questions on the first stanza now.
    Sorry, Flora, but we try not to do homework assignments.

  8. #8
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    Smile Re: Grow Old Along With Me

    Dear Mr. Casiopea,

    Thanks for your kind response again. I can not access two links of the websites which you recommended above in China. Anyway, thank you.

    Er, it is not my homework assignment. I am not a student any more for many years. I read and learn this just for fun only. I have been listening a song named Grow Old Along With me sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter these days. I am touched by the beautiful music and lyric. I happened to learn the first two lines of the lyric are from Robert Browning’ Rabbi Ben Ezra. So I am very interested in learning this poem especially, of course, I hope to learn the literature of English language too.

    I am not meant to be too lazy to use my head at first and then solve my questions on my own. My English is poor and it is beyond my capacity indeed. No one can help me out at hand.

    Here is the web link of the song. Hope you enjoy it too

    http://www.ladyjayes.com/growoldwithme.html

    Kind Regards,

    Flora

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Grow Old Along With Me

    You're most welcome, Flora, and I'm sorry to hear you weren't able to access two of the links. I happen to be in China (Daqing) at the moment, so, I understand about not being able to access certain sites. No matter, though. Here's what you requested. Please note, what follows is my interpretation. Hope it's close, and if not, at least serves to amuse.

    Rabbi Ben Ezra doesn't view life as others do, as two opposing halves: Youth and Old Age. He explains this by drawing on direct opposites. (See below, the origin of the rose and the lily symbolism; Mars and Jove). His purpose in doing so it to show that Youth and Old Age are neither separate nor opposites but rather concentrically related, as is the inner blue flame within its outer, bright white flame, which he describes in the last line:

    "Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!"
    Moving on to the symbolism. The rose and the lily (another term for the water lily or lotus) represent, in religious symbolism, spring, rebirth, fertility, and motherhood. The important point here is that the rose in the Western part of the world represents what the lily does in the Eastern part of the world. That symbolism is one and the same, but it originated from different parts of the world. They met a similar end, but did not share a similar beginning. Here we see two points joining as one. Rabbi Ben Ezra believes otherwise about how Youth and Old age are connected. Youth "sighed" amassing flowers,

    "Which rose make ours, which lily leave and then as best recall?"
    In other words, Youth and Old Age aren't connected in that way and, moreover, shouldn't be viewed in that way. On the contrary, they are intertwined from the beginning. And they are not direct opposites either, like the "stars" Jove and Mars.

    Jove and Mars are planets. Mars symbolizes the God of War, whereas Jove is better known as Jupiter, another name for the God of gods in Greek mythology, and Jehovah, in Semitic texts. Jove and Mars are direct opposites, antonyms, if you will: death, life; hate, love; black,white, the rashness of youth, the wisdom of old age. Youth and Old Age are not connected that way, tells Rabbi Ben Ezra, "It [Youth] yearned" admiring stars,
    Nor Jove, nor Mars;
    Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!"
    All the best.
    Last edited by Casiopea; 12-Apr-2006 at 14:23.

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