Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Our Midmonth’s Poet: William Butler Yeats

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.

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9 thoughts on “Our Midmonth’s Poet: William Butler Yeats

  1. adore that poem, one of my favs by him–nice post!


  2. It’s a favourite of mine as well Tom. Just beautiful.


  3. I’ve read and enjoyed my fair share of Yeats–“The Second Coming” is one of my all-time favorite poems, and I really like some of his others–Easter, 1916; An Irish Airman Foresees His Death & the Rose Upon the Rood of Time. But, I’m chagrined to say that this poem is new to me, and based on the comments above, I probably should know it. Now I do and I’m better for it.

    And you may know the Smiths’ song Cemetery Gates (from the Queen is Dead, the album from which “I Know It’s Over”–a Wednesday’s Choice feature–is taken) where Morrissey sings, “Keats and Yeats are on your side.” Sadly, this tandem is no match for Morrissey’s literary totem, and “you lose, because Wilde is on mine.”


  4. I LOVE Yeats. Was lucky enough some years ago to travel to his gravesite in Ireland and read aloud there (with friends) the poem ending: Cast a cold eye, horseman, pass by. (Under Bul Ben?) But perhaps my most favorite is Had I the Heaven’s Embroidered Cloths. Most beautiful love poem ever, even in the face of LOTS of competition.


    • What a great experience.
      I, too, was fortunate to make my way to his grave after visiting relatives in County Sligo some 30 years back. It is a lovely spot.
      Yes, it is beautiful. He did have a way with words!


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