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Young Hands Holding Old Hands

William Butler Yeats’ poem ‘When You Are Old’  is directly addressed to his lover, most probably Maud Gonne who was an Irish revolutionary.

By William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey 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.

Structure. The poem consists of three stanzas, each containing four lines. The rhyme scheme is very distinct and steady; the first stanza is abba; the second is cddc; the third is effe. Yeats uses this closed rhyming pattern for emphasizing the idea of each stanza.

Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things with their five senses. He has used imagery in the poem such as, 'And nodding by the fire, take down this book', 'And bending down beside the glowing bars' and 'And paced upon the mountains overhead'.

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