A shop keeper in Donegal turned me on to Yeats (and wool),
and some time later, I copied down this verse
so as to lure a lover back to me
whose passion I mistook for
I’d found a four-leaf clover on the day that I told him I had to go.
“You’ll miss my graduation,” he said, after I extended my time abroad.
I suppose he never forgave me those months;
even with all the letters I sent,
even after I came home with Aran sweaters.
But this poem and I remained forever close.
Though it’s only now
“old and grey” myself,
though not quite “nodding by the fire,”
that I realize that I was the “pilgrim soul”
to whom I’d meant to pledge my heart.
When You Are Old
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.
~William Butler Yeats