When You Are Old | Poetry of William Butler Yeats

 When You are Old - William Butler Yeats poem

When You are Old - William Butler Yeats poem

  • Which Poems Do I Have to Study

    When You are Old - Which Poems Do I have to Study
    William Butler Yeats – Which Poems Do I have to Study
    • When You Are Old
    • An Irish Airman
    • Among School Children
    • The Wild Swans at Coole
    • Leda and the Swan
    • Easter 1916
    • The Second Coming
  • Concepts

    • True Love Lasts Forever.
    • True Love is Not Based on the Physical.
  • Themes

    • Aging, Nostalgia.
    • Unrequited Love.
  • Techniques

    • A Late Romantic voice and a formal structure is set up by the iambic pentameter and the ABBA rhyming structure: “When you are old and grey and full of sleep / book / look / deep.”
    • The use of caesura in the first stanza slows the pace of the poem and creates emotional, nostalgic pauses e.g. “And slowly read, and dream of the soft look”.
    • Anadiplosis centred around the word “loved” contrasts the reasons for love and the idea of love being true or false: “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.”
    • The persona identifies himself as her most sincere lover in the volta or turn of the poem which begins with “But one man…”
    • The metaphor “pilgrim soul” connotes a purity and yearning in both the object of the persona’s love and in himself.
    • The final stanza personifies Love as a somewhat shy mythical god, which joins the constellations in heaven to “Hide his face amid a crowd of stars.”
    • This is imagery of a distant, remote, constant, unrequited love, unlike the warm domesticity of the fireplace.

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