Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, WHEN YOU ARE OLD, by WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

WHEN YOU ARE OLD, by         Recitation     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"When You Are Old" is a poem by William Butler Yeats, first published in 1893. The poem is a meditation on the theme of love and the passage of time, and explores the relationship between human experience, memory, and the enduring power of love.

The poem is structured as a series of four stanzas, each of which describes a different aspect of the speaker's experience. In the first stanza, the speaker addresses his beloved, and suggests that even though she is young and beautiful now, she will one day grow old and lose her beauty.

In the second stanza, the speaker reflects on the way in which the passing of time can transform even the most beautiful and beloved individuals, and suggests that the power of memory can help to preserve the beauty of the past even as the physical body deteriorates.

In the third stanza, the speaker reflects on the way in which the memory of love can endure even after the physical body has faded away, and suggests that the enduring power of love is one of the most powerful and transcendent forces in human experience.

In the final stanza, the speaker suggests that his beloved will one day realize the true value and significance of the love that they shared, and suggests that even though time may change everything else in the world, the memory of their love will endure forever.

Overall, "When You Are Old" is a powerful and moving poem that celebrates the beauty and complexity of human experience, while also acknowledging the challenges and complexities of the passage of time. Through his use of vivid language and imagery, Yeats creates a sense of the transcendent and the sublime, and offers a poignant reminder of the enduring power of memory and the human spirit to find meaning and purpose in the face of even the most difficult challenges in life.

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