Ruth Mergi Ketubah Circles Multilayer

A Poem for a Friend

When You Are Old


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


Some time ago, a friend commissioned a piece of artwork. She wanted to include the above words written by William Butler Yeats, which are so gorgeous, frankly, that they need no adornment. One man loved the pilgrim soul in you. Sigh.


For Shonna's papercut, we chose the Circles design (large -- 11 x 17 inches) and paired it with a fine art print of an original painting of mine. The unique construction of the papercut allows the colors of the print to "peak" through the papercut layers, creating an effect that is at once dimensional and "painterly."

The effect seemed to me to match the mood of the poem: A sort of vibrant melancholy, a glimpsed stillness in the face of movement and change over time.

I had trouble choosing the right tyepface for the project, but in the end settled on an unadorded but still contemporary font. Timeless enough, but not old. Of the moment.

Here's how it came out:


Edited to add Shonna's reaction:

It's no secret that Yeats is my favorite broody Irish poet, and it's no secret that this particular poem is the stuff of many, many women's sighs. (The reality of its inspiration is a little more mean-spirited. Google Maud Gonne for details. Yeats got tired of the rejection.)

BUT, I choose the popular interpretation. So many people love our moments of glad grace, but there aren't too many people who love the sorrows of our changing faces. Ruthie's piece hangs in my home as a reminder and inspiration.

It is, objectively, a beautiful and intricate piece of paper art--so delicate and hypnotic. I love it and am so, so thrilled to have this piece prominently placed.

By the way, aside from being a client and friend, Shonna is a talented writer. Check our her website here.

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