Do these things really last that long? We will see!

Dear Poetry Lovers,

Today we have a beautiful W.B Yeats poem. I have written my interpretation after the poem:

When You are Old

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.

This is another Yeats poem written for Maud Gonne. MHFL readers will recall that a lot of Yeats’ poetry is rooted in his unrequited love for
Maud Gonne.

In this poem Yeats’ tries to make Maud imagine the time when she is old and all her beauty is gone. He imagines that she would be reading this book-
the book of Yeats’ poetry and that her thoughts will wander back to the days of her youth. And then she would recall that she had many lovers and among them was
Yeats. Yeats’ also imagines that at that time Maud will realize that all her lovers loved her for her beauty alone and only Yeats’ loved her for her soul. And at that
time, Yeats’ imagines, she will realize that only the poet loved the marks of sorrow that would slowly change her face. In the last stanza Yeats’ personifies love- it is
written in capital letters. He says his Love left her because she did not value it in her youth and ” paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars”. It is a Love that has become great and absolute but she cannot reach it anymore- it is hidden among the stars beyond the

In a way it is a poem written in frustration. Almost like a hurt ego trying its best to undo its hurt even if it is just in the world of imagination. This is
a common idea of several silly Hindi movies also! And Yeats’ makes several assumptions that only a desperate lover can make: that Maud will one day be lonely and
without real love, that she will be reading Yeats’ book of poetry, she will remember that Yeats’ was the only one who loved her truly etc. The last assumption is particularly
fantastic because it almost seems that Yeats’ has analyzed everyone else’s love for Maud and found his own to be the only true one! Wow! But does he not understand
that other men are moved by the same forces that move him? So it is almost a set of childish feelings expressed by one of the greatest poets of the English language!

But one thing is certain- if there was no unrequited love in this world we would have lost great poets….. and great lovers of poetry.


ab tera zikr bhi shayad hi Ghazal mein aaye
aaur se aaur hua dard ka unvaan jaana

( Now you may never be mentioned in my poetry again, my beloved
the title/theme of my pain has changed and will keep changing)

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