William Butler Yeats

(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939 / County Dublin / Ireland)

When You Are Old - Poem 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 overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Form: Sonnet


Comments about When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats

  • Petals Azureblue (12/14/2018 4:56:00 AM)


    Love sometimes is so elusive...
    it ducks away from them who wield
    a true copy of the genuine thing...
    (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • (12/5/2018 4:58:00 PM)


    Um poema do pensamento, da percepção refinada [raros], como são, por exemplo, os poemas de Octavio Paz - Nobel 1990.

    Um abraço.
    (Report) Reply

  • Thaís Fernandes (12/2/2018 11:22:00 AM)


    I love this poem. How brilliantly written! (Report) Reply

  • (10/16/2018 11:02:00 PM)


    i'm wrting my own poem on how life changes and everything that lives will die someday (Report) Reply

  • (10/5/2018 3:05:00 AM)


    Lovely poems that left me a bit tearful (Report) Reply

  • (9/18/2018 5:32:00 AM)


    brings back my thafers cultivated wasted cultured te nore robusto cultured singing voice (Report) Reply

  • (9/7/2018 4:15:00 PM)


    The poem has made my feeling to fall like mangoes from mango tree,real touchng (Report) Reply

  • (7/3/2018 6:57:00 PM)


    Beautiful and stirred me. Remind me of my son’s father, (Report) Reply

  • Lungelo S Mbuyazi (6/20/2018 11:02:00 AM)


    Beautiful poem... I like as well (Report) Reply

  • (6/2/2018 7:24:00 PM)


    As I turn 66 today, this poem reflects my soul's disposition towards old loves, best friends and the sweetness of youthful love...... (Report) Reply

  • (5/3/2018 7:03:00 AM)


    My mentor and the source of my poetry excellence (Report) Reply

  • Adrian Flett (4/16/2018 5:33:00 AM)


    Moments of glad grace and the pilgrim soul so real a sense and rhythm of a time of life (Report) Reply

  • (4/13/2018 7:12:00 AM)


    When you are old and grey and full of sleep. Well communicated. (Report) Reply

  • (3/5/2018 10:52:00 AM)


    And thank Lord he hid his face
    Else he would not have a face
    I'd have stuck this hot bar in his face
    I opened his suitcase, his drawers
    and found, would you believe it!
    tons of love letters he wrote
    and got from his lovers all life
    Unbeknownst to me he was a rat
    A rotte, rotten stinking rat and I
    thought he dearly loved me
    (Report) Reply

  • Henry Tong (2/28/2018 6:40:00 AM)


    Yeats craftily and sensatively catches the unchaning love in the passing time. He expresses sadness, but without anxiety and anger; he praises true love, but without joy and excitement. He mixes chagrin with hope, which constructs a deep-laden tone for the audience. (Report) Reply

  • (1/13/2018 5:49:00 PM)


    A sad but a moment inescapable for us all (Report) Reply

  • Abhimanyu Kumar.s (12/2/2017 7:49:00 AM)


    So much of silence in your old age. You need to remember childhood and your youth. Beautiful (Report) Reply

  • (11/9/2017 10:17:00 AM)


    I love it there magnificant (Report) Reply

  • José Elias De Freitas (10/12/2017 5:36:00 AM)


    Although my mother language is Portuguese and my knowledge of English is not so good, I can feel the beauty of When You Are Old. (Report) Reply

  • Dr Dillip K Swain (9/28/2017 11:54:00 AM)


    A classic! No words can describe the poem! So elegant so masterly penned by the great W. B. yeats! ! (Report) Reply

Read all 63 comments »

# 61 poem on top 500 Poems

User Rating:
4,7 / 5 ( 141 votes ) 62



What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: beauty, dream, fire, sleep, love, change, sorrow, star



Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 17, 2001

Poem Edited: Thursday, May 17, 2001


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