The Lamentation of The Old Pensioner – Summary | The Heritage of Words

The Lamentation of The Old Pensioner

W.B. Yeats

Summary

This poem is notable for its bitter words of an old man “I spit into the face of time/ That has transfigured me” and its skillful dramatic variations of the bare refrain “Time/ That transfigured me” pointing towards the stripped yet intricate bitterness of Yeats’s Last Poems.

When the poet is in trouble he takes a shelter, but it is only a broken tree. Before time changed him he talked of love and politics with his friends, but he was never closer to the warmth of power. He had been left far behind. Some young people are excited to get power and so they fight against the opponents, but the poet thinks on time which has changed him completely. Now in his old age no woman takes care of him but he still remembers the beautiful women. He thinks that his only enemy is Time which has made him old. There, he expresses his anger by spitting into the face of time.

Questions

  • Write an essay on Youth and Age.

Ans: An old man has not much left but memories. His life is nearly done. But a few years remain. So the future does not much occupy his mind. He dwells a good deal in the past looking back over the long life he has lived, which seems to have gone so quickly. He thinks of his lost youth and of all he dreamed of and meant to do then.

A boy lives mainly in the present, and takes short views of life. And he is an erratic creature, moved by sudden and incalculable impulses. One can never know what he will be up to next. One can no more calculate what he will do or say than you can when and how and where the wind will blow. So “a boy’s will is the wind’s will”.

But when the boy grows up to be a young man, he begins to think of his future. He stands on the threshold of his life, and all the year to come stretch away before him to a far off horizon. and what a long life it looks! To a youth of twenty, the forty or fifty or even sixty years he may live seem an eternity. He begins to dream of all he will do and become in that vast period ahead. He dreams of effort and achievement. He will become a famous scholar. He will develop a great business and become a billionaire. He will write great books or paint great pictures or compose great music, and earn fame. He will take up politics, and rise to position and power. So he will think of the distant future.

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