We have published the poem When you are old by William Butler Yeats before on our website. This poem was published because we noticed that someone plagiarised this beautiful poem. Now it’s time to analyse this poem.
Based on the title of the poem, one might think that Yeats wrote this poem during the last part of his life. The truth is different: this poem was written in the early days of his writing career. This poem was again part of his struggles to deal with the rejection by Maud Gonne. She had turned his proposal to marry him down. This is also the basis for the poem To a young beauty. The heartbreak must have been intense for Yeats.
When you are old shows that with the passing of time, things will change. The memory of a loved one will fade away. Not entirely, but it will fade away. Just as time will make sure, that liveliness and energy will float away. He poet hopes, that someday she will pick up his book and start to read about what she meant to him. Then there will be only the realization about what could have been but never was.
One question remains, when reading this beautiful poem: What if she decides to take up his book at an earlier point in her life?
When it comes to Yeats and love, the poet left us many poems. These love poems are many times based on reflections of the past. The wish to be different or have it different are prominent in the works of Yeats. Therefore, his poetry can be considered very personal at times. His literary legacy is enormous. That is why we commemorate this poet in January (in the William Butler Yeats Month).
This poem is a heartbreak to the full extent. This is written during one of the darkest times for Yeats. Just think, what it can do when someone who you love hurts your feelings. From these feelings, it takes great writing skills to transform these emotions into poetry. Can you do the same?
When you are oldWhen you are old and grey and full of sleep,And nodding by the fire, take down this book,And slowly read, and dream of the soft lookYour eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;How many loved your moments of glad grace,And loved your beauty with love false or true,But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,And loved the sorrows of your changing face;And bending down beside the glowing bars,Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fledAnd paced upon the mountains overheadAnd hid his face amid a crowd of stars.— William Butler Yeats