Yeats' poetry communicates through a plethora of stylistic devises many potent and universal themes and ideas, which will continue to make his poetry worthy of critical study. His excellence in artistic expression enables him to intertwine his own ideals and philosophies with contextual issues, and as such we as responders are presented with the unique viewpoints, values and attitudes of Yeats, along with an opportunity to broaden our understanding and perspectives on life, and ponder over the universal themes which, across a century, are still relevant in our society. It is due to this reasoning that I believe Yeats' poetry will continue to be worthy of critical study.
Initially is the poem "When You Are Old", written to Maud Gonne in 1891, following her rejection of Yeats' proposal. From the modalic, definite opening use of the word "when," this polemical lyric warns Gonne of the consequences of her rejection of Yeats.
Taken in a psychoanalytical sense, we see how Yeats describes a future where Maude Gonne will be "old and grey and full of sleep"; an elderly lady, close to death (as the symbolism of the word "sleep" suggests). Sad and remorseful, she will "murmur, a little sadly, how [her] Love fled,"; in her old age she will nostalgically, sorrowfully reflect on her past life, and remember how she had rejected this "one man" who truly loved her, and as such is compelled to face a forlorn old age, where, as a result of rejecting this man who had "loved the pilgrim soul" in her, she is alone and "sad."
The poem in itself is shadowed in a regretful overtone, through the use of words and phrases such as "soft look," "slowly read," "a little sadly", "soul" and "sorrows". Noticeably, all of the descriptive language Yeats has employed to illustrate...