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When You are Old

by William Butler Yeats


When 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 look
Your 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 fled
And paced upon the mountains far above,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

(image from thesundaytimes.co.uk):

William Butler Yeats, 1865 – 1939

This Oct. 27, 1932 file photo shows Irish poet and statesman William Butler Yeats speaking to a reporter in a hotel in New York City. A rare first edition of one of Yeats' most political poems, 'Easter 1916,' was sold Wednesday Oct. 22, 2008 at Adam's auctioneers in central Dublin to an anonymous bidder for €7,100 (US$9,600), roughly double the guided price. (AP)

Born in Dublin Ireland

Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923

Considered by many to be one of the greatest poets

of the 20th century.

When You are Old

 recounts a man’s great love for

a woman whom he adored for her true/ pure self …

“the pilgrim soul … “

Though great his love the two

were not destined to be one.

It is believed that Yeats himself is the man of

whom the poem refers

and the woman, Maud Gonne –

the great love of his life, who would marry another.

A reading of When You are Old by David Shaw Parker