Retirement Poems and Songs 

Poems and Songs for Your Retirement Speech, Toast or Card

Retirement poems and songs, expressing retirement sentiments, add sparkle to a retirement speech, are appreciated in a retirement toast to a colleague, and convey your feelings on a retirement greeting card. A framed retirement poem would be a nice retirement gift idea.   

Or you could sing a song! I brought tears to the eyes of a colleague when I sang "The Way We Were" at her retirement party. (The sentiments I hope, not my singing!)

 Top ten favorite retirement poems and songs 

The following are my top ten favorite retirement poems and songs with my reflections on the challenges and opportunities of the life stage fifties to retirement and beyond.

If you know someone who is about to retire, you might like to use one of these retirement poems and songs to express your retirement wishes in a way that sincerely acknowledges this important life stage. 

For Retirement: If you read only one of my chosen retirement poems and songs, let it be this one! The poet captures so many of the themes and stories I have written about in this web site. John O'’Donoghue, poet and philosopher, died suddenly at age 53 in January 2008.

“Now is the time to enjoy your heart’s desire, 
To live the dreams you'’ve waited for” 

“This is where your life has arrived, 
After all the years of effort and toil”

Begin: In retirement one may experience the first signs of “aging”, and occasional depressive feeling, become a part of life. All the more reason according to Brendan Kennelly to Begin again!

“Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
That always seems about to give in
Something that will not acknowledge conclusion
Insists that we forever begin.”

Thresholds: Retirement is one of life’s big transitions. What resources have you to enable you to cross this threshold? What emotions are evoked at retirement? What rituals must be observed - speeches, letters, parties, gifts? 

John O’Donoghue reminds us that “no threshold need be a threat, but rather an invitation and a promise.” 

Going Back: One of the challenges of retirement is “finding new ways to be young. I like the sentiments in Going Back, by Gerry Goffin and Carole King.

“But thinking young
And growing older
Is no sin
And I can play
The game of life to win”

The Picture: I have a little black and white photograph, taken by my Dad in Youghal, County Cork, during that wonderful sunny summer of 1956, when I was 9. 

It shows myself, my brothers, my cousin and of course, Smuggler my dog, playing in the sand near Claycastle beach. If I close my eyes and think about it, I can still feel the warmth and texture of the sand beneath my feet. 

It really doesn’t matter that you cannot see the photograph, because like Loudon Wainright, you have your own Picture.

“But dad is dead and we grow old; 
It's true that time flies by; 
And in forty years the world has changed
As well as you and I.”

In retirement it’s important to stay in touch with family and friends because of loss of interest in making new contacts and friendships.

“The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.”
(Polonius’ advice to Laertes- William Shakespeare)

Rock & Roll Kids: I remember an August night in 1965, sitting on the wall outside Piper’s Merries in Crosshaven, listening to the music of the Dixies from the Majorca ballroom. Telling Joanne about my great plans – the book, the travel, the big job, the money. And she was so gone in the head with love that night, she believed me!  And when I walked her home and held her hand and kissed her lips...the vinegar from the chips tasted sweeter than wine. 

Teenagers in love, Rock &Roll kids, Life was so, so beautiful then. (Read- Life Is Beautiful

The lyrics of Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan Rock’n’roll Kids; capture that memory perfectly for me.

"Jerry Lee was big and Elvis too
Blue jeans and blue suede shoes
And we never knew what life held in store
We just wanted to rock 'n' roll forever more"

Forever Young: This is a wish from an older person to a younger person, but retirees might also strive to stay Forever Young.

"When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful 
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young"
Bob Dylan

Cat’s in the Cradle: One of the challenges of the life stage fifties to retirement, is to establish adult relationships with one’s children. This is when you hope to reap the rewards of having managed the potential conflict between family and career. 

“I've long since retired and my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.”
“He'd grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.”
Sandy and Harry Chapin

When You Are Old: The sixties and later is a period of relative stability but fraught with concerns about running out of time. (Read - The Bucket List

In this poem William Butler Yeats reflects on the occasional weariness of “nodding by the fire”, the journey from youth to age, and regret about a lost opportunity for love.

"When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep"

The Station: R J Hastings uses the metaphor of life as a journey, on which our minds are focused on the final destination.  For some the long-awaited destination is retirement. 

“When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!” We are reminded that “Life must be lived as we go along.” 

See also Retirement Speeches, Retirement Toasts, and Retirement Quotations

So - what are your favorite Retirement Poems and Songs? 

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