I am currently writing a story revolving around a changeling and have been reviewing Yeats’ poetry. Much of the poetry of William Butler Yeats draws from Irish folklore and mythology. He was greatly influenced and participated in the Celtic Revival of his time period and was linked romantically with Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne. Even though they each married other people and drifted apart, she influenced his poetry. Ezra Pound was also an influence on Yeats’ poetry and Yeats’ poems grew more modern in their expression and imagery but he never gave up using traditional verse forms.
W.B. Yeats left a large and fascinating body of work. He won the Nobel Prize for poetry in 1923. This morning I was reading “When You Are Old.” This one does not draw from Irish folklore and is not romantic in the sense of the romantic movement. I have been thinking about the phrase “pilgrim soul” and what that conjures for me. The final stanza I am still puzzling through. The overall tone of this one for me is regret and lost love. Yeats himself lived to be quite old and passed away when he was 73 in 1939. Please read and enjoy Yeats’ “When You Are Old.”
When You Are Old
by W. B. 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.