W. B. Yeats

William Butler Yeats one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, was born at Sandymount, Ireland. on 13 June 1865

The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water

I heard the old, old men say,
“Everything alters,
And one by one we drop away.”
They had hands like claws, and their knees
Were twisted like the old thorn-trees
By the waters.
I heard the old, old men say,
“All that’s beautiful drifts away
Like the waters.”

Beautiful poem full of melancholy about old men looking at their reflections in a river. The image they see is altered by the water, just as time has altered their physical appearance. They look like old gnarled and twisted trees reflected on the surface of the river.
They are discussing ageing, the loss of many of their friends and family (“One by one we drop away”), the passing of everything and compare death to drifting away of the waters.

I vecchi che si ammirano nell’acqua

Ho sentito i vecchi, molto vecchi, dire:
“Tutto cambia,
e a uno a uno noi ce ne andiamo”
Avevano le mani come artigli e le ginocchia
erano contorte come vecchi biancospini
accanto alle acque.
Ho sentito i vecchi, molto vecchi, dire:
“Tutto ciò che è bello scorre via
come le acque”

(trad: L.Z.)

79 thoughts on “W. B. Yeats

  1. That truly is a sad and beautiful poem by Yeats. Never read it before until now, thanks to you. I love the outlook on aging, how it’s altered like a reflection in the water from years past and even lives gone. I think this is one of the most realistic poems about life and death. It doesn’t cover it up, it says the reality of aging and loss. Thank you for sharing such a deep and beautiful poem! I enjoyed reading it and your thoughts as well.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. What’s unfinished Luisa is your life. You must have given so much to so many – and that includes me in the short time that we’ve been communicating. Your posts are incredible, and even if you don’t always get the response that you were hoping for, you will always get a 10 from me. Stay safe and take care xx

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Grazie anche a te, in questo caso allora direi: una traduzione fantastica, scusa la mia “ignoranza” in materia, prima di adesso non conosco questo poeta.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. As I told Priscilla, I studied it at university, but at the time I was unable to appreciate all its beauty and depth.
      However, I have not found it again in any other anthology
      Have a nice week, dear Miriam 💙💙💙

      Liked by 1 person

  2. W.B Yeats has a great way with words. His poetry is lyrical. This poem is so characteristic of his style! My personal favourite is Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven. There’s a wonderful reading of it by Anthony Hopkins in a little-known movie.

    Liked by 2 people

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