The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner

-W(illiam) B(utlar) Yeats


        Irish poet, W. B. Yeats’s poem ‘The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner’ presents his reminiscence of young life which was full of romance, youth, love and pleasure. But now he is old. Nobody loves him. He has become a man of hatred and negligence. He compares his past youthful bygonedays with his present state in old age. He condemns loads who are busy to make pikes for conspiracy at the time of love and romance. But poet is much angrier with ‘time’ which has changed him completely. Therefore, out of anger, he spit s on the face of time.


            The poem “the lamentation of the old pensioner” has been written by Irish poet and dramatist W.B. yeats like other modernist poets , the poet is not happy with his present life . Through the use of old man he has expressed his dissatisfaction to his painful present . This poem has been written from the prospective of old man through the technique of comparision . The name of Antagonist of the speaker is ‘Time’ .Time has  given and taken away all the happiest movement of his  life .To show his anger upon the time the person wants  to spit into the face of time.

The poet uses present tense , to address his painful present reality and he uses past tense to addresess his romantic past . Before the persona become an old  man broken tree he used to talk about politics and love affairs with his friends in his youthful days , the persona was conscious about national and international politics but when the time threw him into the dark side of society he became as meaningless as broken tree. As the broken tree cannot contribute anything for the environment the old man also can not contribute anything for the progress of his society.  In the 2nd stanza the poet compares the youth of his past and youth of present .In the eyes of old man present youth are neither conscious about their national politics nor they are conscious humanity . They are only busy to make plot against other group.  It is all because of time their comes change in the consciousness of present youth. In the last stanza the old man again recalls his painful present while he was young boys may beautiful ladies visit with the proposal of affair. But now his condition is like the condition of broken tree. As a result at present he neither gets a response from beautiful ladies nor their eyes. TO heal his painful presences he has to take shelter of past. Generally old people live fragmented and dissatisfied life. To console them they have to take the shelter of past. The old pensioner makes a room of his past as a result he frequently visit it as the time has given and taken away all the beautiful movements of his life , he wants spit into the face of time to open of his anger upon time for the speaker the time is an antagonist with whom the speaker had already lost the battle.

In this way , the speaker feels his regret when he compares and contrast his fragments present with glorious past. It is a compulsion of the narrator to live with memories. In front of time youth ,power , and dignity is meaning at last people have only option to feel regret the loss. 

 Answer the following questions:

  1. Write why W. B. Yeats wants to spit into the face of time.

W.B. Yeats is really angry with time because the time didn’t wait for him. It is said that the time and the tide wait for no one. He recalls his youth days and mutters with anger. He was an active youth who was also involved in political activities. Lots of girls would see him on the street. He was handsome and jovial with all around him. But now the time has transfigured him and made him into an old man. Now nobody wishes to see him anymore. He is just like a broken tree that nobody likes it. So, he is angry and furious towards the cruel time. That is the very reason why he wants to spit into the face of time.

  1. How does the speaker expresses his lamentation in W. B. Yeats’ “The c. Lamentation of the Old pensioner?” OR
  2. Why does the poet show his anger against time? OR
  3. Why is the poet angry in “The Lamentaion of the Old Pensioner”?

As a youth the poet was followed by his friends. He would take part in politics. He would lead his group and fight aginst the government or the imperiel regime. He would take part in the revolutionary acts like making pikes and attacking the enemies. Many beauties would follw him and love him. But now he has become an old man whom nobody cares and loves. So, he has become furious and he tries to spit on the face of time.

As everybody praises the rising sun, there is no one to take care of the sting sun. He is like a setting sun whom nobody cares. He has become a broken treen whom nobody waters. His fruits and leaves are already fallen. Because of these reasons he has become so furious and he scolds or hates time. He wants to spit into the face of time.

Why does the old man want to “Spit into the face of time”?

Its because he has been transferred into an old man. He compares his youth age and old age and finds time to be the cause of these changes. So, he denigrates and hates time. He wants to spit into the face of time. Spitting into the face of time is the strongest expression of hate and anger.

Mention the three things the old man lamets about. Why is he sad about them?

He lost his vibrant youth age. He used to roam with his frinds. He lost that freedom during the transformation of time. He lost his revolutionary friends with whom he fought for his country and he lost the beautiful girls who turned their faces and smiled at him.

Now no one is there with him. Most of his friends have already left. He is alone and useless like an old broken tree; leafless and fruitless. He has been completely transfigured. So, he is very sad and wants to spit into the face of time.

Explain the title of the poem “The Lamentaion of the Old Pensioner”.

The meaning of lamentation is to think over something and repent. Lament and repent are both synonymous words which means to think over past and to be sad. Here the speaker is a retired person i.e. pensioner. He thinks over his past and repents. He becomes angry because the time has transfigured him. Trangifures clearly means that his handsome face has become wrinkled, rough and dry.  His powerful body has become weak and soft. Now he can’t do the things he want to do. So, he becomes furious and scolds the time.

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