When You Are Old : themes

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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.


The poem “When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats mentions several important themes, including:

Time and Aging: The poem reveals the passage of time and the inevitability of ageing. It highlights the bittersweet nature of growing old and the significance of memories.

Love and Regret: The poem emphasises the complexities of love and the regret that can attend lost opportunities. It accentuates the idea that true love, which values the inner essence of a person, is often neglected or not fully appreciated.

Memory and Nostalgia: The speaker urges the reader to recall the memories of youth and past love, evoking a sense of nostalgia and longing. The poem indicates that memories can be a source of solace and reflection in old age.

Beauty and Appearance: The poem mentions the transient nature of physical beauty with the enduring nature of inner beauty, indicating that true love is rooted in appreciating someone’s soul rather than their outward appearance.

Longing and Melancholy: The poem produces hope and melancholy, highlighting the pain of lost love and the yearning for a past that can never be reclaimed. It emphasises the emotional impact of love’s absence and the wistful contemplation of what could have been.