Friday, February 13, 2009

Poetry Friday: When You Are Old

Yeats today.

When You Are Old is a sad and lovely poem, and I particularly love the lines:

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

Read the whole thing here at The Poetry Foundation.

The round-up today is at the home of its foundress, Kelly. Visit Big A little a for plenteous poetry.


tanita s. davis said...

This is such a gorgeous poem. I adore the idea of a "pilgrim soul." I liken it to a seeker's soul, someone every traveling onward, looking for the answers. This is something I can hope for in myself, and to love the pilgrim soul I see in others.


jama said...

Those are my favorite lines from the poem, too. Sigh. Thanks for the Yeats fix. :)

Yat-Yee said...

This morning I seem to be drawn to those poems that lean on the sad side, even though my own contribution isn't like that. Thanks for sharing.

Sara said...

Mmmm. It may be sad, but there's so much cherishing in it that I can bear it. Thank you for this.

sarah said...

This is one of my oldest and best beloved poems. It is so poignant, with such a real-life unhappy ending, but so beautiful somehow because of that.

Margaret in Minnesota said...

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 many shadows deep.

How many loved your beauty with a love false or true?

Yet 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 mountain overhead...

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


I typed all that from memory (this was one of the few poems I memorized in college) and know that I'm missing at least one line. I'll post it as is, though, (as hard as that is), and then go check my work.

Thank you for the fond remembrance, Karen.

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Oh, yes! I forgot the "moments of glad grace!"

Karen E. said...

So glad today's selection struck a chord. Such a beautiful poem.

And Margaret! Wow! Good for you! I'm horrible at remembering poetry, even the best-loved stuff, so I'm thoroughly impressed.

Melanie B said...

Thank you, Karen.

Those are my favorite lines too.

Do you know the poem by Ronsard which inspired Yeats' poem? I learned it in French class. Yeats takes considerable liberties, so it's not exactly a translation, more a reinterpretation. And frankly I like Yeats' version better.

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Since Melanie's getting all scholarly on us with her reference to Ronsard ;), I'll also mention that seeing Yeats's poem on your linked-to site was a visual reminder for me. He's using the A,B,B,A rhyme scheme...which will (I hope) aid me in remembering that "moments of glad grace" line next time.

Karen E. said...

Melanie, I did not know the Ronsard poem, so thank you so much!