When You Are Old

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When you are old: The poem is written in October of 1891 for Maud Gonne. Yeats relationship with Gonne was very complicated and had many ups and downs. It was definitely an unrequited love. Yeats had proposed to Maud Gonne, a beautiful, rich and brainy feminist, in 1891 and many times after that but had been rejected. He had also proposed to her daughter but had been rejected again. In the modern age, however, his works became more realistic and free from the mystic beliefs of his early years. Summary: Yeats’ poem “When You Are Old” demonstrates that you won’t notice the real value of the things you have until you don’t have them anymore. The speaker of the poem addresses his beloved saying that when she is aged she should read a particular book which will remind her of her youth. She will remember the people who had loved her grace and her beauty with either real or fake sentiments in the past, and also that one man who had loved her soul unconditionally as she grew old and the way she looked changed. As she is reminded of him, she will regret her missed opportunity of true love. Theme & Tone & Rhyme Scheme: The poem is written in iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme ABBA CDDC EFFE which gives a steady rhythm to the poem. The themes of the poem are love, loss and regret and although based on the poet’s own personal life, the sentiment reflected in this poem is common to most, if not all, rejected lovers. Yeats’ tone helps enrich the reader’s conception of the poem’s theme. William Butler Yeats conveys tone through his choice of words and use of details. On the first stanza, the poem expresses a serene feeling as he writes, “when you are old and grey and full of sleep”. On the second stanza, the poet delivers a desperate yet sad tone as he admits his love. “But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you”, we find with this tone that the narrator is
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