When I was young and bold and strong,
Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong!
My plume on high, my flag unfurled,
I rode away to right the world.
“Come out, you dogs, and fight!” said I,
And wept there was but once to die.

But I am old; and good and bad
Are woven in a crazy plaid.
I sit and say, “The world is so;
And he is wise who lets it go.
A battle lost, a battle won-
The difference is small, my son.”

Inertia rides and riddles me;
The which is called Philosophy.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Dorothy Parker's poem The Veteran


  1. Mason says:

    I am a veteran, and I’m extremely impressed with Ms. Parker’s crystallization of one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. In summary, as I served and matured in the Armed Forces, I found that life was not easily separated into nice neat little bins with labels like right, wrong, good, or bad. Often enough, after taking up a cause to right a wrong or because good was battling evil, the lines between the sides were so blurry as to be indistinguishable. Victors and losers were that in name only, with no real difference in the end. Not that I’m jaded: I just got better at determining which battles were worth fighting. I’m sure that when I’m old and grey, trying to pass my life lessons to a future generation, some might scoff and call me an existential philosopher. I rest easy knowing that, eventually, we all get there, one way or another.

  2. husnul says:

    i think that it is good, but i get confuse how to paraphrase it… so, please tell me about it

  3. Jojo says:

    I think that this poem shows us the differences of being old and young… we have to be wise for our selves, aware our presents….

  4. Rich Ferguson says:

    I rewrote my resume today. The last item included was:
    MILITARY United States Marine Corps, Purple Heart
    It should have been first, but my experience since Vietnam (1969) has been too few people understand or appreciate the concepts duty, service, sacrifice and honor. Dotty Parker did.

  5. Sandy Cox says:

    Thanks for the poem. We are so proud and grateful for our veterans who risks all for our freedom. thank you is not enough but I am very appreciative of your sacrifice.
    Sandy Cox

  6. Samantha says:

    I loved this poem you are awsome

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