Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Immeasurable Mortality

One of my favorite poems is by W. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939. I include his life span because the dates place him in a historic time of particular culture, poetic form, with specific advances in medical practice.  Three score and ten was a hoped for age not often achieved.

We regret Yeats’ completed longevity bracket as it means he is no longer writing his wonderful poetry and essays. He undoubtedly would have had more to say. But we do not expect anyone born in 1865 to survive well over 100 years.  So from the perspective of 2014, his anthology was complete.

Because my longevity bracket is not completed, today I can read Yeats to my love and pass it on to my children who can read it to theirs. And to you.

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.

When You Are Old is read with contemporary commentary in the following video. Interesting to me is the reader’s connection with the Ukraine, a site of so much bad death.



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