A Little Yeats for Valentines Day

There are so many wonderful poems out there, I’m not sure I could ever pick a favorite romantic one.  But the one below by Yeats has always touched me ever since I heard the first lines.  Note, it begins, “when you are old”.   Is the man writing this to the woman he loves as a warning?  Telling her to ignore those other men who only love her pretty face while he loves her true soul?  If so, perhaps she will listen and end up not an old woman by the fire filled with regret.

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.

–W. B. Yeats

What are some of your favorite romantic poems?

Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 7:13 pm  Comments (22)  
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22 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Interesting, perplexing poem. Did she do something to drive someone away, or did he leave because he didn’t have the courage to tell her he loved her?

  2. Nice poem, I can see why you like it but there is one thing I am not understanding, “And bending down beside the glowing bars” is this hospital bed or the bar of the funeral casket?

  3. That’s a good question, DD. I interpret it to be more of the former, but it really could be either.

  4. Hey Starting Over,

    I didn’t get that imagery at first either. But now I’m pretty sure it’s the gate of a fireplace. It would fit the setting: her reading by the fire in a Victorian room.

  5. I like Shakespeare’s sonnet 18.

  6. I really like Yeat’s; when you say romantic poem, do you mean from the romantic period or are you talking about romance?

  7. As I don’t know which romantic you mean, I will tell you my favourite Yeat’s poem. It’s He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven

  8. Hey Chazz,

    I was thinking a romantic poem from any era due to the holiday. But a poem from the Romantic period would have been fine, too.

    Love your choice!

  9. Hi Zrbe,

    Thanks for stopping over at my blog.

    Beautiful poem.

  10. Happy Valentine Day Scarlett:)

  11. Thank you so much! I hope you had a beautiful holiday.

  12. Ah, I love Yeats. I always thought she left him or never really acknowledged him, but it is fairly ambiguous.

    One of my favs, that I got to read while performing a wedding a few years ago, is Frost’s Line Storm Song. Beautiful sentiment without overly flowery imagery, and that fabulous trademark cadence.

  13. Hey Amy,

    Yeah! Another Yeats fan. 🙂

    I’m going to go check out Frost’s poem that you mentioned.

  14. I’m not a fan of this so called holiday, but I’ll make an exception for you Tasha.

    Happy St. Valentine’s Day!


  15. Awww…thanks so much, Ralfast! Right back at you. 🙂

    For the record, I’m not a fan either, per se. I acknowledge the day, but have never made a big deal about it. An impromptu flower is much more romantic than running out and spending too much money on designated days.

  16. I adore that poem. There are oh so many poems that I cherish.

  17. Glad you like the poem, too. 🙂

  18. That is a beautiful poem. I got from it that when she is old and alone to look back on her life and realize that he was the one who really loved her.

    I think the bars are a fireplace grate as well. Why else would they glow?

    Two of my favorite love poems are: “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” by John Donne and “La Belle Dame sans Merci”

  19. Lyra,

    Thanks for reminding me of “La Belle Dame sans Merci”. Love Keats.

    I’m not familiar with the one by Donne. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’m going to go read it now. 🙂

  20. What I learned in high school English class, way back in the day, Donne wrote A Valediction when his wife was pregnant. Apparently, he traveled a lot and it was a poem to his wife as a reassurance of his love for her.

  21. I don’t know if Emily Dickinson’s “Wild Nights” is romantic per se, but it’s very… intense.

    “Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
    Were I with thee
    Wild Nights should be
    Our luxury!

    Futile – the Winds –
    To a Heart in port –
    Done with the Compass –
    Done with the Chart!

    Rowing in Eden –
    Ah, the Sea!
    Might I but moor – Tonight –
    In Thee!”

  22. Marian,

    There is definitely an intense, romantic feel in that poem.

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