Inside the Mind of Isadora

When You Are Old


When You Are Old

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 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.


Poem ‘When You are Old’ by William Butler Yeats

This poem was written for Maud Goone for which he had a vey complicated relationship of unrequited love. In deep depression from the death of her two year old he wrote the poem.

She was an Irish revolutionary who ended up marrying another man despite many proposals from Yeats. He himself would go on to marry another, but many see ‘When You Are Old’ as a poem highlighting the failed relationship with Goone.

The poem is seen as one that is filled with love, but the last stanza is dark; the speaker is reminding his former mistress that their love did not last, and this is something she should regret for the rest of her life.

William Butler Yeats, widely considered one of the greatest poets of the English language, received the 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature.


Daily Prompt – Gray

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Author: Inside the Mind of Isadora

Intriguing, sensitive, mysterious, loving, artistic and crackling with excitement for life is a pretty good description of who I am. I just retired from the world of art where I sold my Artfully Designed Handmade Jewelry for 28 years; although, art will always be a part of who I am no matter what venue I choose to express it in.

14 thoughts on “When You Are Old

  1. thanks for sharing this post!….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A new one to me, and a great rad, thanks Issy ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful and even more so when you know the story behind it. I think the poem is telling her he loves her and always will.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve not seen this before. Thanks for sharing.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Perfectly lovely poem, Issy. Thank you. 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This poem is so graceful, just like aging. I love it, and glad I read it today. I needed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this poem. It’s apparently about old age, but as you say I can also see regret and unrequited love. Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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