When You Are Old : summary

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When You Are Old is a notable literary work by William Butler Yeats. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of When You Are Old.


W. B. Yeats had a beloved whom he loved dearly. It is more or less known to all of us that he loved his lover, but she did not care for him because she was a wonderful and popular woman at that time. He originally wrote this poem out of regret for not being noticed.

Here, he directly addresses his beloved Maud Gonne, saying that he loved her with all his heart, but she never accepted the poet’s love and tried to understand him. When his beloved grows old, she will have none of this beauty. Her skin will become loose, and the brightness of the form will diminish. Those who love her today will not even look at her then.

Then she will remember that there was someone who would have loved her more than his life. He loved not only her youth but also her old age. However, the sad thing is that there will be nothing to do then because the spirit may cross the mountains and shine as a star under the sky, and his lover will only regret it.