"Song of the Old Mother" is a poem by William Butler Yeats

  • The old woman's day is very regimented. The strong, regular rhythm throughout the poem indicates both the sameness of her days and the monotony of what she has to do.
  • Her work is very physical. She uses strong, plain-sounding verbs to describe her work: kneel, blow, scrub, bake, sweep, which contrasts to the light, airy verbs applied to the young: lie, dream, sigh.
  • She uses childish language when she personifies the stars to blink and peep. Maybe this is because the appearance of the stars is a chance for her to relax at last and escape the rigours of her day.
  • She seems jealous of the young. She compares her life of work to their lives of idleness: the young women with nothing more to fill their days than worry about their ribbons.
  • Is the old woman mocking the young who have nothing more to complain about than the wind disarranging their hair OR is she quietly regretful, wishing that she has no more to worry about than they do?
  • It is sad that she has to work because she is old: we wonder what happened to her when she was younger to make hard work a necessity for her now. It is poignant that she does not seem to question her lot.
  • The last line shows the old woman's real feelings. The fire she refers to is her own life - and it is getting feeble and cold. This suggests that she does not have long left to live: her fire will soon go out.

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