When You Are Old

Solitary Tree in Lake, Pilanesberg, South Africa


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 his face amid a crowd of stars.


by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature.


Read more about Yeats and his poetry on Poetry Foundation.


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