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.
One of Yeats’ lesser known poems. I especially like the perspective from a life well lived.
I find that poetry is best enjoyed when read aloud. The cadence and the roll of the words across your tongue add a dimension of beauty and depth. Try it. Then read it out loud a second time a bit slower and you’ll find it warming you from within.
If you’re really brave, read it out loud to someone you love, a son, a daughter, a spouse, a parent, yourself.
I think everyone should have a poem or two about love tucked away in their memory. Silly, poignant, freeing, flowing, sad, gleeful, tender. Even a limerick will do if it’s one that can bring a laugh to your day or a smile to your lips.
If you have a favorite poem about love I’d be delighted if you’d share it with me.