When You Are Old Essay, Research Paper
Analysis of When You Are Old by W. B. Yeats
This poem When You Are Old by W. B. Yeats is about Yeats telling his lover how it is going to be when she is old, and he is not around anymore. He is telling her how much he loves her now and how she will think about his love when she is old. She does not say anything although the speaker imagines her saying something in the end of this poem. Yeats wrote this when he was 28, and he talks about what she might be doing, feeling, dreaming when she is old. This poem is very sweet and sad, because he is telling her how he loves her, but at the same time he is not going to be alive when she is old.
Yeats starts out his poem with the setting. In the first four lines, he describes the time, the place where the woman will be, and what she will be doing at that time when she is old. Basically he describes her old age and how she will read her book near the fireplace dreaming about how she was when she was young.
She is old and grey and full of sleep. Grey describes her hair color, and her eyes look full of sleep since she is old and has wrinkles around her eyes. She is nodding by the fire , taking down this book that she reads slowly. She is reading a book near the fireplace. She is also dreaming of the soft look her eyes had once, and of their shadows deep. Therefore, she is thinking about the times when she was young and had soft look in her eyes and her deep shadows in her eyes that she used to have.
In the first four lines, Yeats describes from broad thing then he goes into details. Being old is the broad description, and he explains what an old woman will have in her old age such as grey hair and sleepy eyes. Then he explains what she will do. He could have just said that she was old. However, by describing all these substances Yeats makes readers and the woman who he actually wrote for to imagine the situation that is described.
Therefore, when she is in the situation that is described in the first four lines of this poem, how many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true. These are questions that Yeats is asking the woman. When she is old and dreaming about her old memories, how many has loved moments of her grace in her life? Also, how many has loved your beauty, just your appearance whether it has been true or false? Yeats is saying that many people might have loved her appearance when she was young.
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you And loved the sorrows of your changing face. The word But tells the reader that Yeats is going to contrast what he wrote before. The word also emphasizes one man s love. Therefore, he is saying that there might be many people who like you when you are young because of your appearance. However, one man loved the pilgrim soul, and loved her face even though she was getting old. Yeats loves her soul that travels to sacred places. He also loves the sadness of her changing face, as she becomes old. This part is very sweet. The way he writes and the tone of his voice makes it more dramatic and sweet.
In the last four lines, Yeats describes what the woman is doing when she thinks about her love when she is old. She is bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled. The speaker imagines her murmuring sadly about her Love fled. Love can refer to two different things here: her youth and the man who loved her. The Love paced upon the mountains overhead and hid his face amid a crowd of stars. Her youth left her and she became old, and her man who loved her died so he is in a crowd of stars in the sky.
This poem, When You Are Old, assumes that the woman is old even though she is not old at that time. The speaker is imagining the time when she is old and talks about what she would think of her life and love when she is old. He tells her how she would be sad when she is old thinking about her youth and her love that left her.