It is the habit of the poets, and of many who are poets neither in vision nor in faculty,
to speak of youth as if it were a period of unshadowed gaiety and pleasure,
with no consciousness of responsibility and no sense of care.
The freshness of feeling, the delight in experience, the joy of discovery,
the unspent vitality which welcomes every morning as a challenge to one's strength,
invest youth with a charm which art is always striving to preserve,
and which men who have parted from it remember with a sense of pathos;
for the morning of life comes but once, and when it fades something goes which never returns.
There are ample compensations, there are higher joys and deeper insights and relationships;
but a magical charm which touches all things and turns them to gold, vanishes with the morning.
All this is true of youth, which in many ways symbolises the immortal part of man's nature,
and must be, therefore, always beautiful and sacred to him.
But it is untrue that the sky of youth has no clouds and the spirit of youth no cares;
on the contrary, no period of life is in many ways more painful.
The finer the organisation and the greater the ability,
the more difficult and trying the experiences through which the youth passes.
George Eliot has pointed out a striking peculiarity of childish grief in the statement
that the child has no background of other griefs
against which the magnitude of its present sorrow may be measured.
While that sorrow lasts it is complete, absolute, and hopeless,
because the child has no memory of other trials endured, of other sorrows survived.
In this fact about the earliest griefs lies the source also of the pains of youth.
The young man is an undeveloped power;
he is largely ignorant of his own capacity, often without inward guidance towards his vocation;
he is unadjusted to the society in which he must find a place for himself.
He is full of energy and aspiration,
but he does not know how to expend the one or realise the other.
His soul has wings, but he cannot fly, because, like the eagle,
he must have space on the ground before he rises in the air.