Best W.B. Yeats poem When You are Old“, The Poet William Butler Yeast tells about an old age. Any old man or woman is addressed in this simple but beautiful poem.

Stanza 1
When 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 (easy to mold, cut, compress, or fold) look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows (a dark area) deep.

Meanings:
Grey (having the color of ashes or smoke) nod (to move your head up and down to show agreement or understanding )

Paraphrase:
When you grow old and your hair is partly black and white, and you are full of sleep and are moving your head up and down to show agreement, you should take this book, sit by the fire and read it. Read it slowly and think about your eyes that had soft look in the past and the sweet things that you saw with them.

Reference to the Context:
This stanza has been taken from the Poet William Butler Yeats’s Best W.B. Yeats poem , “When you are Old“. This poem is about old age. Any old man or woman is addressed in this simple but beautiful poem.

Explanation:
No particular old or woman is addressed in this poem. The poet addressing any old person says that when he grows old, his hair has the color of ashes, he is full of sleep, he is moving his head up and down to show agreement; he should take this book, sit by the fire and read. He should read it slowly and think about his eyes that had soft look in the past. And he should think of sweet things that he saw (discern visually) with them. Now his eye-sight (vision; a person’s ability to see) has become dim. So he cannot see things clearly. That is why the poet advises him to dream or think of beautiful things he loved to see.

Stanza 2
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And your loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim (worshiper, devotee, believer) soul in you,
And loved the sorrows (sadness, unhappiness, misery) of your changing face;

Meanings:
Glad (happy; pleased) grace (elegance of form and manner) pilgrim (a traveller to a holy place, a wayfarer)

Paraphrase:
People loved and liked you for reasons of their own. There were many people who loved you for your beautiful figure; some people loved you for your pleasing manners. But there was one man who loved your restless soul that was fond of traveling to holy places. He loved your face that had changed by sorrows.

Reference to the Context:
This stanza has been taken from the Poet William Butler Yeats’s Best W.B. Yeats poem “When you are Old“. This poem is about old age. Any old man or woman is addressed in this simple but beautiful poem.

Explanation:
The poet addressing an old man reminds him that a large number of people loved him for his beautiful figure. Some people loved him for his pleasing manners. Love is sometimes true. And sometimes false. But those people, who had true love, shared his joys and sorrows. They know from the changing face of their beloved whether he suffering from some grief or he is living a happy life. True friends add joys and reduce sorrows. He should realize the difference. The poet reminds him of his unchanging love.

Stanza 3
And bending besides the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly (showing or feeling sadness), how love fled (run away from a place or situation of danger)
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hit his face amid the crowds of stars.

Meanings:
Murmur (a low indistinct sound) glowing (praising highly; shining with intense heat) fled (past tense of flee) flee (to leave a person or place quickly)

Paraphrase:
It is difficult to describe how love left the place quickly. It bent beside the bars of the window which were shining with intense heat, made a complaint in a low voice and left the place. It climbed up the overhead mountains and disappeared into the crowds of stars.

Reference to the Context:
This stanza has been taken from the Poet William Butler Yeats’s Best W.B. Yeats poem, “When you are Old“. This poem is about old age. Any old man or woman is addressed in this simple but beautiful poem.

Explanation:
The poet is not addressing any particular old man or woman in this beautiful poem. It is a great tragedy of human life. When a man or woman grows old, he or she feels lonely. An old fellow is left with no enjoyment in life. In the absence of ravishing charms of the youthful years, all his friends or foes lose interest in him or her. Some of the dear friends and relatives have dies, others are too busy in worldly affairs to pay attention to him or her. The feeling of loneliness reaches the climax. That is why the poet says that love has disappeared from this world for an old fellow. Even his own sons and daughters, brothers, or sisters try to avoid his company.