Saturday, July 17, 2010

When you are old and grey and full of sleep And nodding by the fire, take down this book,


When You are Old


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.

WB Yeats [21 October 1891]


This is my contribution to the texts. I've posted a picture (not totally random), its Glencar in County Sligo and Yeats wrote a lot of peoms about Sligo and also a poem about this waterfall (The Stolen Child) I am not really sure why I picked this poem there are so many poems that I love. There is something about the lines "but one man loved the pilgrim soul in you and loved the sorrows of your changing face" that just really gets me.

Yeats based the poem on a 16th Century sonnet by Pierre Ronsard, but he put his own twist on it. The failure of love in Yeats' poem was not due to the haughtiness of the woman who rejected him (!) but the fault of love itself, who abandoned the 2 lovers. Yeats had a belief that emotions (especially very powerful ones) themselves were Gods, not prone to our control.

3 comments:

Amanda said...

This is such a lovely poem Angela. Thanks for sharing it! I have an idea for a book already from it!
Many, many years ago I went to Sligo and a lovely local lady we met at the train station drove us around for the morning, showing us the sights, telling us the history including a visit to Yeats's grave. So kind!

Angela said...

Thanks Amanda. Good to hear you had a nice time in Sligo. When people in the UK ask where I am from and and I say County Sligo, they usually say "Where?" and have never heard of it. There's you all the way over in Australia and you've been there!

Carol said...

Beautiful, evocative, sad. Very nice choice, Angela.