When You Are Old Summary & Analysis by William Butler Yeats

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"When You Are Old" is a poem by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats. In the poem, which is published in Yeats's second collection, The Rose (1893), the speaker asks someone to think ahead to old age, strongly suggesting that the addressee will eventually regret being unwilling to return the speaker's love. Most critics agree that the poem is about Yeats's relationship with Maud Gonne, an Irish actress and nationalist. Though the poem is one of the best-loved of Yeats's works, many people don't realize that it is based on a much earlier sonnet by Pierre de Ronsard, a 16th century French Renaissance poet.

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