Age and Beauty in Next Day by Randall Jarrell

Age and Beauty in Next Day by Randall Jarrell

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Age and Beauty

In the poem "Next Day" by Randall Jarrell, the speaker is a lady who is very troubled by her increasing age. I think it is interesting that this was written in 1965 because that is the same year that the author died. It raises the question of whether the poem was about his own feelings or if it was about another person. Perhaps he knew that his life was coming to an end soon and before he died he wanted to convey his thoughts to others. The title suggests that the speaker is writing about the implications of the days to come and maybe learning to face them.

The beginning of the poem lets the reader know that the old lady is upset about her current lifestyle and where she thinks it will lead her. She longs for the days when she was young and beautiful and everybody looked at her and wanted her. When the boy takes her groceries out to her car, she wanted him to see her in that way but she knows that her physical appearance has changed to the point where she no longer gets those same yearning looks anymore. I got the impression that she feels she is not fitting into this present decade and that she only knows best what happened in her prime years. When she was younger, people turned their heads and actually noticed her. But now she is angry about her lack of influence on the world. The line "as I look at my life, I am afraid only that it will change, as I am changing," means that she fears her life may get even more worse than it has already become. She spends her time alone contemplating all of this and trying to come to terms with the future. She is afraid of her aged face and hates what it has turned into. The youthfulness of her past has completely left her and now she is forced to deal with the present. I think it is apparent that she is afraid of dying because when she went to the funeral and saw her friend's face, she thought of herself lying there in the casket.

The lady in this poem is confused about her life. She realizes that she does not have many years left.

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