The Pilgrim Soul

Last Christmas I was given a book by my wife called “A Poem For Every Night of the Year” compiled by Allie Esiri.

The 29th November featured a poem by W.B. Yeats. Whilst reading it one phrase stood out: “the Pilgrim Soul”.

It’s often the case that the skill of a poet is distilling ideas into concentrated drops allowing your mind to dilute them back into rich landscapes of thought with a few words.

In her summary Allie points out the poem is said to be written for Yeates’s muse, Maud Gonne an Irish actress. She’s said to have refused his advances a number of times.

He’s trying to point out that he would love her despite the long road traveled. But what I love is that three words can conjure such a quantity of time of her life. Pilgrimages being a serious undertaking of significant effort. And just taking adding the soul takes us on a lengthy journey through goodness knows what ups and downs.

So here’s to poetry and its succinct rich elaborate brevity.

When you are old

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *