William B. Yeats (1865-1939)
When the poet is in trouble he takes 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 poet thinks about 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 enemy is Time which has made him old. So, he expresses his anger by spitting into the face of time.
The poem 'The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner' presents the poet’s memory of his youth which becomes more painful when he looks at this present condition and contrasts it with his condition in the old age. This poem (1939) is a revised version of Yeats’s earlier poem 'The Old Pensioner' (1890). It presents the poet’s reminiscences of his young life which becomes more agonizing when he looks at his present state and contrasts his time of youth with his state in the old age. This poem is notable for its bitter words of an old man “I spit in the face of time/That has transfigured me” and its skillful dramatic variations of the bare refrain “Time/That has transfigured me” pointing towards the stripped yet intricate bitterness of Yeats’s Last Poems.
In this poem poet likes to put himself in his earlier statement. He still loves to be liked by beautiful women. Although he is old now, he is sad and throws his anger at a time that has changed him. The poet has made three shifts in the subject matter in three respective stanzas to show the comparison and contrast between his young and old age. The first stanza describes his favorable condition in politics and love. The second stanza describes how the angry young people behave today in contrast to the old man’s youth which was lovely and quiet. The last one shows his neglected condition and thus he throws all his anger at the Time, which is the main cause of all this loss.
A refrain “That has transfigured me” is the important part of this poem that is repeated, especially at the end of each verse. This refrain helps to establish the meter of the poem, indicates its tone, or re-establish its atmosphere. The skillful dramatic variations of the bare refrain have pointed towards the stripped yet intricate bitterness and have maintained the poet’s anger throughout the whole poem.
Tone, attitude or the point of view of the poet here in this poem is neither satisfied with his old age, nor has he accepted it quietly, but he is angry with his old age. He knows that it is Time that has changed him completely, so he spits into the face of Time.
Sharma, K.N. "The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner by William Butler Yeats: Summary and Critical Analysis." BachelorandMaster, 23 Nov. 2013, bachelorandmaster.com/britishandamericanpoetry/lamentation-of-old-pensioner.html.