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Before we offer some words of analysis about this lyric, it might be worth reminding ourselves of the text of When you are old sparknotes poem:. 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 overhead And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. But one person i. Of course, the power of this short poem derives not just from the sentiment which is in itself not all that original, and the stuff of a thousand Renaissance lyrics and a hundred thousand contemporary love songs but from its strange casting into the future: Yeats or the speaker and the beautiful addressee of the poem were both young when he wrote the poem, but he can already foresee the fact that she will grow sorrowful and that he will continue to love her even as her youthful looks give way to age.
The poet knows that his poetry is the only way to pay tribute to her, and that he will never win her. The final lines present more of an interpretative challenge than the rest of the poem, and are what arguably saves the poem from mawkish self-pity in the face of suspected unrequited love. Instead of running off to pine away in a cave somewhere, Yeats declares somewhat prophetically that the spurned lover will seek solace among the grandeur and vastness of the world and, indeed, the universe beyond the worldamong the mountains and the stars.
True enough, this poem is thought to be about Maud Gonne; Gonne would prove to be a lifelong muse for Yeats, but would refuse to marry him. But Yeats shows his technical skill through using the enclosed rhyme abba to hint at a love just within reach, only to slip away, so that we end up back where we began. William Butler Yeats is one of the greatest of all Irish poets. His first When you are old sparknotes, Crosswaysappeared in when he was still in his mid-twenties, and his early poetry bore the clear influence of Romanticism.
And yet, at the same time, there is a directness to his work which makes readers feel personally addressed, and situates his work always at one remove from more famous modernist poets such as T. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Yeats died in Throughout much of his life, a woman named Maud Gonne was his muse. Yeats asked her to marry him several times, but she always refused. She knew she could be of more use to him as a muse than as a wife or lover.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in This twelve line poem is a fairly free translation of a sonnet by Ronsard. There is a depth of feeling in that poem which is lacking in the earlier poem. Address. Interesting Literature is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme deed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon.
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A Short Analysis of W. B. Yeats’ ‘When You Are Old’