Poems of W.B. Yeats: The Rose

ii. Would you say that the poet’s attempt to portray his beloved’s present condition as the past and her future as her present is an interesting strategy? Why? / Why not?

When You are Old

WHEN you are old and gray 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, 5

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 10

And paced upon the mountains overhead,

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

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I like the stages of life that Yeats gives us. There is, in the beginning, the sense of being near the end of life and the sober reflection this time gives. Then the nostalgic past and finally the future which provides elements of the infinite "face amid a crowd of stars." Yeats leaves us with images of the only thing that matters in life. Love in all its purest forms is eternal.