One of the services provided by the Poetry Foundation is its listing of poems of topical interest. February naturally brings a focus on love poems, and this year they’ve given us a lovely collection of the favorite poems of some of our leading poets, one of whom is Kim Addonizio.

Known for her steely wit and clear-eyed attitude about the mysteries of human mating rituals, Addonizio is a celebrated novelist as well as poet. Her selection of “When You Are Old,” by William Butler Yeats, may come as a surprise to those who are acquainted with her frankly modern approach to romance—but then again, Yeats remains one of the true Poets’ Poets.

While it is rare for us to spotlight poems by men, it is appropriate for us to note that a great contemporary woman poet cites this as a notable love poem. It is indeed notable and beautiful for its tenderness in recognizing the “glad grace” of a beloved.

While we’ve been careful not to mention the V- word, it is worth saying that you could do worse than to share this poem with someone you care about on this coming Saturday.


When You Are Old
By William Butler Yeats

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.



KimAddonizio_NewBioImage_Credit-LinTanKim Addonizio  has been called “one of our nation’s most provocative and edgy poets.” Her latest books are Lucifer at the Starlite, a finalist for the Poets Prize and the Northern California Book Award; and Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within, both from W.W. Norton. 

Photo credit: Tan Lin


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