Arabic poetry يا ليت الشباب يعود يوما، لأخبره بما فعل المشيب

If only youthness may come back a day, so I may (complain/unbosom my feelings to it/tell it/lament to it/open my heart so it may sympathise with me/feel what I am feeling) what the grayness (signifies being old) has done.'

I just want to note that it's so eloquent in Arabic and so colourful because youthness is (Shabab meaning the youth) and grayness is (Masheeb). There's a similarity in the way it is pronounced and written. Gives it an extra spice. Maybe as english speakers, you can't see it but in Arabic it's extremely colourful.

Any idiom, proverb or piece of poetry suchlike? It's said as a lamentation about what being old has done, limiting one's options & not being able to do and enjoy what one used to do in dint of ailment or inability. It may also be said as a yearning to something pleasurable that happened in the past & is now unreturnable.


3 Answers 3


If youth knew, if age could, Sigmund Freud

The phrase laments the inexperience and/or lack of wisdom of youth and the lack of energy of old age.

The phrase goes back much further; see The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs here

Cf. H. Estienne Les Premices (1594) 173

O si la ievnesse scavoit, O si la vieillesse povvoit

translated as here

If when you’re young you only knew, if when you’re older you still could.


A certain song comes to my mind. May not be as descriptive a prose as you expected.

The lyrics to the song goes like this.

"God, tell us the reason, why youth is wasted on the young"

Clearly implies the young do not know the value of what they have until much later in life. And it causes them to yearn for the time which was wasted.

Hope this will help.


Can this work with you? “Hoping to have the Youth returned instantaneously, just to tell it about how aging makes us live tenuously” I've created it myself so, you can give me your feedback.

  • Please note Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum. If you have an answer, it must be your definitive answer to the question at the top of the page. The question asks for an idiom (via the idiom-requests tag) and your suggestion is hardly idiomatic, and indeed introduces "tenuously" which is not in the original at all.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 15, 2019 at 7:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.