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When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats -YOUR FAVOURITE POEM


William Butler Yeats was the most famous Irish poet of all time, and his poems of unrequited love for the beautiful and dangerous revolutionary Maud Gonne helped make her almost as famous as he was in Ireland. The first poem below is Yeats’ loose translation of a Ronsard poem, in which Yeats imagines the love of his life in her later years, tending a waning fire. The second poem, “The Wild Swans at Coole” is surely one of the most beautiful poems ever written, in any language.

When You Are Old

by William Butler 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.

The Wild Swans at Coole
by William Butler Yeats

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine and fifty swans.

The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold,
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

YOUR FAVOURITE POEM SENT IN BY YOU

WHAT’S YOURS ?

 

 

About poetreecreations

I am an author writer publisher web administrator I run poetry workshops in the community. My published Manners childrens poetry book can be found at www.waterstones.com

One response

  1. I consider ‘When You are Old’ to be the greatest love poem ever written. As an Irish woman, I love the work of Seamus Heaney, especially ‘Postscript.’

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