Manvotional: “Youth” by Samuel Ullman

What does it mean to be “youth”? In this time of rapid change, is there a sense of commonality across the generations? And what will being young in America look like over the next decade or two?

Vintage asian old man doing kung fu while ice skating.

When legendary War Correspondent Col. Frederick Palmer visited Douglas MacArthur at his Manila Headquarters, the three frames hanging above the General’s desk were his most distinct recollection of the encounter. A picture of George Washington is on the left. A picture of Abraham Lincoln may be seen on the right. Between them, there’s a framed rendition of Samuel Ullman’s poem “Youth.” When he became Supreme Allied Commander of Japan, he hung it in his Tokyo office and continued to use it in his numerous speeches until his “old” age. The poem became immensely famous among the Japanese as a result of his impact in Japan, and it is still more well-known and liked there than in the West.


Samuel Ullman contributed to this article.

It is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life. Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips, and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

A temperamental superiority of boldness over shyness of hunger, of adventure over the desire of comfort, is what youth entails. This is more common in a sixty-year-old man than in a twenty-year-old youngster. Nobody becomes old just because they’ve lived a certain amount of years. By abandoning our values, we become old.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but losing one’s zest for life wrinkles one’s spirit. Worry, dread, and self-doubt bind the heart and reduce the soul to dust.

Whether you’re sixty or sixteen, the attraction of wonder, the unquenchable childlike thirst for what’s next, and the delight of the game of life are all there in every human being’s heart. There is a wireless station in the middle of your and my hearts; as long as it receives signals of beauty, hope, joy, bravery, and strength from mankind and the infinite, you will remain youthful.

When your aerials are down, and your soul is wrapped with cynicism and pessimism, you are old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, catching the waves of optimism, there is hope that you will die young at eighty.



Frequently Asked Questions

What is the message of youth by Samuel Ullman?

A: The message of youth by Samuel Ullman is to always have hope and never be afraid.

What is a youth poem?

A: A poem written by a person who is young.

Is Youth a state of mind or a phase of life?

A: It can be both or neither.