THREE OLD MEN
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
from Sailing to Byzantium, William Butler Yeats
74 years old.
Eyes: compassionate, alert.
Hair: Uncut, uncombed.
Dressed: old sweatshirt, pen clipped on collar—indifferently.
Wrinkles: softly etched, gently modeled.
Countenance: grandfatherly, benign, accepting, vaguely sad.
Work at time of photograph: continuing thirty-year quest for a theory that would unify all the physical forces—electromagnetism, gravity, strong and weak nuclear forces—but which he never succeeded in formulating.
Earlier works: theories of Relativity and particle-wave duality that transformed physics and the modern world (solid-state physics, Atomic Bomb).
77 years old.
Eyes: critical, intense.
Hair: Badly cut, combed.
Dressed: turtle-neck sweater, Bohemian—self-consciously.
Wrinkles: deeply cut, sharply modeled.
Countenance: fatherly, defiant, rather dangerous.
Work at time of photograph: increasingly austere plays for stage and television that sought for essentials in human situations.
Earlier works: plays such as “Waiting for Godot,” “Krapp’s Last Tape,” and “Eh, Joe?” that challenged prevailing conventions of drama, gained wide fame but remain on the artistic edge.
Frank Lloyd Wright
86 years old
Eyes: patient, dreaming.
Hair: Well-cut and combed.
Dressed: White collar and tie, jacket—elegantly.
Wrinkles: relatively few, soft and deep.
Countenance: like a rich uncle, relaxed and aloof.
Work at time of photograph: Guggenheim Museum, Price Tower.
Earlier works: Prairie Houses and Unity Temple—which greatly influenced the founders of European Modernism—Fallingwater, Usonian Houses, and many others, as well as books and articles on architecture that have had wide influence.
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- May 21, 2009 / 3:28 pm
- Lebbeus Woods