Poems of W.B. Yeats: The Rose

iii. Would you support the view that this strategy makes it easy for the poet/ speaker to underline the fact that her youth, beauty, and love are ephemeral?

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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Ephemera means lasting for a very short time. Although Yeats points out that love in the physical sense is not eternal, "how love fled", there is the sense of the intangible. It is this "love" that Yeats is concerned with. It is the kind of love that finds the "pilgrim soul", it is the love that endures through "the sorrows of your changing face." So no, Yeats is not speaking about a love that is short lived rather than a love that is eternal as the "stars."