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When You Are Old - William Butler Yeats Presentation

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Nazia Nazir

on 20 February 2016

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Transcript of When You Are Old - William Butler Yeats Presentation

When You Are Old
William Butler Yeats
Analysis of Poem
Literary Devices
Literary Devices: First Stanza
Literary Devices: Second Stanza
Literary Devices: Third Stanza
Analysis: First Stanza Cont.
Analysis: First Stanza
Biographical Info
When You Are Old
Themes & Subjects
Born on June13, 1865 in the seaside village of Sandymount in County Dublin, Ireland.
Mother: Susan Mary Pollexfen
Father: John Butler Yeats
Yeats was always "full of thought, often very abstract thought, longing all the while to be full of images, because I had gone to the art school instead of a university.”
Yeats' style for his writing is highly poetical, static, and esoteric.
Yeats received a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923 for his poetry. Some of his acclaimed writings include: The Wild Swans at Coole (1919), The Tower (1928), and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933).
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.
Yeats wrote this poem to express his unrequited love for Maud Gonne, a woman who had rejected his love several times but inspired many of his poems.
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
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,
The Relationship between Art and Politics
- Irish Nationalism
The Impact of Fate and the Divine on History
- Devotion to Mysticism
Irish Mythology and Folklore
- Influence on Traditional Irish culture
Romance
- Transition: Romanticism to Modernism
Read by: Colin Farrell
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,
Yeats portrays meter in the poem when he uses the word “and” several times in the stanza. This gives the stanza a rhythmic beat and structure. It also extends the poem giving it a feeling of aging that Yeats is trying to express.
When Yeats says “old and gray and full of sleep” he asks Gonne to think about the future when she will become old and possibly impending death.
Due to the punctuation and the words/phrases of “full of sleep” and “nodding by the fire” the lines give readers a feeling of calmness and soothes the mood of the reader. At the same time, the tone is mysterious.
The book Yeats is referring to is a notebook he kept with letters Gonne used to send to him while they were establishing the Abbey Theater in Dublin, Ireland.
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,
He uses words such as “slowly”, “soft” and “shadows” to give the reader a sense that time is lost and that it is no longer relative because your are thinking about the memories of the past.
Yeats asks Gonne to read the book slowly, reminiscing the moments they spent together, thinking about the love that could have been.
In order to contrast the darkness of the last stanza, Yeats uses the word “love” in this stanza to lighten the mood of the reader.
Yeats is telling Gonne about the people who enjoyed her physical features, whether it is “false or true”. He uses words like “grace” and “beauty” which are vague and empty descriptions. He then uses “pilgrim soul” to contrast his strong feelings for her against other people.
When Yeats uses the phrase “pilgrim soul” he is saying that he loved her for who she was as a person and not only her physical features.
Analysis: Second Stanza
In the last two lines of the stanza, Yeats reveals for the first time, his attraction and love for Gonne. The “sorrows of your changing face” further reveal that Yeats has loved Gonne despite any of her sorrowful experiences, which people in love are inevitably involved in.
Introduction to William Butler Yeats
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
When Yeats says “bending down besides the glowing bars”, the reader and Gonne are sent back into the real world from the ethereal visions he portrayed earlier. He further implements the melancholy mood of the poem by enforcing a feel of remorse to Gonne. She is sitting by the warmth of the fire regretting the missed opportunity of the past years that have gone.
“Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled” reveals that Yeats’ love for Gonne “fled” and was never returned. She murmurs to herself because now, she is all alone in her impending death. This line shows that Gonne would feel remorse if she didn’t accept Yeats’ love but not in a warning manner.
“And paced upon the mountains overhead” describes that path of Yeats’ unrequited love.
This line could describe the path of their lost love hiding among a crowd of starts or, based on certain beliefs, people become stars when they die so Yeats is telling Gonne that he will be among those stars before she can accept his love so she should do so now or she’ll be sorry.
The ending of the poem has imagery that signifies a feeling of loneliness and the death of their love going to the sky among the stars, a place that cannot be reached.
Analysis: Third Stanza
These lines use ten syllables of IAMBIC PENTAMETER when / YOU / are / OLD / and / GREY / and / FULL / of / SLEEP.
METER: he uses the word “and” several times in the stanza. This gives the stanza a rhythmic beat and structure and extends the poem giving it a feeling of old age.
ALLITERATION of long sounds, especially l's and w's, in essence to give the poem a very drawn out and sleepy feel.
END RHYME: sleep/deep, book/look...
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
REPITITION: Contrasts the meloncholy feeling of last stanza.
ALLITERATION/ SPONDIAC FOOT: syllables are stressed.
IMAGERY
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.
PERSONIFICATION OF LOVE: Elaboration of the themes of romance and loss.
IMAGERY: Path of the lost love between Yeats and Gonne.
Conclusion
"When you are old" by William Butler Yeats is an exeptional poem that properly demonstrates the use of literary devices to maintain a steady rhythm.The poem describes Yeats' unrequited love for Maud Gonne. Throughout the poem he tells her to think about her future and how she may be alone if she doesn't take her chances on love now.
Full transcript