Poems of W.B. Yeats: The Rose

iv. Would you accept the claim that this strategy helps him present the one man (himself) who loves the beloved’s “pilgrim soul” her true love?

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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It is difficult to know if this poem is autobiographical about Yeats. Such a beautiful poem has to come from somewhere inside the poem though. You can scan Yeats's biography but poems like these are not always meant to be traced to a particular person.