I dream of an anthology which would bring together the most striking descriptions of old men from poetry. It could be called A Tattered Coat Upon a Stick or something along similar lines. When I imagine the anthology in my hand, it's neither skinny nor thick, but middle-sized, neither too selective nor too exhaustive. This book would make a fantastic retirement gift for the discerning literary man.
The idea came from the following two shrivelled old fellows, who I met in fairly close succession. I'll pass them along here in case it's any use to my anthologist-hero.
“There: the shrivelled-up, wrinkled weight-lifter,
an old man who only drums now,
shrunk in his enormous skin, which looks as if it had once
contained two men, and the other
were already lying in the graveyard, while this one lived on
deaf and sometimes a little
confused, in the widowed skin.”
(pg 29-31, Rilke, Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus Trans. Stephen Mitchell)
“Grew old. And shrivelled. Asked the time of day.
And then forgot. Turned. Looked among the grass.
Tripped on a twig. Frightened some leaves away.
“But Only Mine” James Wright