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

  • (7/3/2018 6:57:00 PM)

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

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  • 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

  • Levi Hamlin (7/20/2017 3:50:00 PM)

    I feel incredibly lucky to have parents who love me with a love such as this. (Report) Reply

  • (6/13/2017 9:34:00 AM)

    The helpless stage of old age and the memories of love so beautiful. (Report) Reply

  • (4/8/2017 12:38:00 PM)

    It is about unrequited love and about how it stays with you always. Both tragic, beautiful, and exquisitely penned. Only Yeats....... (Report) Reply

  • (3/30/2017 1:53:00 AM)

    Love fleeing , pacing upon mountains and hiding its face amid a crowd of stars, Only Mr Yeats can imagine.
    if love fails, words of love succeeds.
    (Report) Reply

  • Sylvaonyema Uba (2/8/2017 8:28:00 AM)

    A poem about aging and decay. A reminiscent of youthful zealousness. Well expressed and punctuated. Nice poem! Sylva. (Report) Reply

  • (1/23/2017 9:04:00 AM)

    Some words need not words... (Report) Reply

  • (1/7/2017 11:18:00 PM)

    can anyone summarize the main theme of this poem plz... thanks (Report) Reply

    (8/2/2018 9:34:00 PM)

    Do not be discouraged by not understanding WB Yeats, he came from a privileged genetry who talked in mystic terms. His touch with the reality of normal Irish people s questionable. Poetry is for the masses not the pseudo intellectual, mystical clowns. Rein Heaney instead, he is real.

Read all 56 comments »

# 63 poem on top 500 Poems

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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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