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Monday, February 11, 2013

Unrequited Love

William Butler Yeats was twenty three years old when he met Maud Gonne. She refused repeatedly to marry him. He felt her rejection painfully.
She is the subject of his early love poems. Yeats did marry someone else late in life and had children. His early poems are bittersweet and sometimes sorrowful.
Here is one of my favorites.
Joe should have it read at my funeral.

When You Are Old

When you are old 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 loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false and 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 and paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crown of stars.

His other poem I read often is "He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven."
 Look it up, you might enjoy it.

tread softly


  1. I love this, Olive,especially the line of one man loving the pilgrim soul in you and the sorrows of your changing face. That's a love story! I wrote down the title of the other and will look it up.


  2. This is a beautiful poem, Olive. I never knew much about Yeats. Nice to know a bit about the man behind the words.


  3. Oh, how very beautiful. Your high school English teacher must have loved you!

  4. Beautiful and bittersweet...Have a great week!!

  5. Love the WB Yeats poem you've posted Olive. He is one of my favourite poets.

    'I have spread my dreams under your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.' - this one always makes me think of wild violets when they start to flower - you can hardly see them and have to be careful where you step in case you crush them.
    That's a lovely photo of you and Joe. Happy Valentines Day for Thursday.

  6. "...hid his face amid a crown of stars" is the line that speaks to me. thank you for sharing.

  7. So pretty. Love your new blog look...lovely!!!

  8. I remember reading it years ago...

    I feel that way about Blow, Bugle, Blow by Tennyson and El Dorado by Poe


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