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.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
The Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) was among the most notable English-language poets of the 20th Century. Although he is often accepted among the modernists as one of their own, his roots were in the late-Victorian poetry of the 19th Century. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. “When You Are Old” is a poem addressed to the actress and feminist Maud Gonne, the great unrequited love of his life. It is based on a sonnet by the 16th-century French poet Pierre de Ronsard. Both of these poems, acknowledged to be among Yeats’s early masterpieces, were published before the turn of the 20th Century.