W.B. Yeats’ Poem “When You Are Old” Adapted into a Japanese Manga Comic

Yeats Manga

Click on images to view them in a larg­er for­mat.

Last week we fea­tured Julian Peters’ com­ic-book adap­ta­tion of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” That might seem like an ambi­tious enough clas­sic-lit­er­a­ture-to-comics adap­ta­tion for any artist’s career, but the Mon­tre­al-based art his­to­ry grad stu­dent Peters has put him­self on a larg­er mis­sion. If you take a look at his site, you’ll find that he’s also adapt­ed poems by “Italy’s fore­most poet of the First World War” Giuseppe Ungaret­ti, Sea­mus Heaney’s 1969 poem “The Giv­en Note,” and John Philip John­son’s “Stairs Appear in a Hole Out­side of Town.”

Yeats Manga 2

You see here the ver­sa­tile Peters’ visu­al inter­pre­ta­tion of W.B. Yeats’ “When You Are Old,” a nat­ur­al choice giv­en his appar­ent poet­ic inter­ests, but one drawn in the style of Japan­ese man­ga. In adapt­ing Yeats’ words to a lady in the twi­light of life, Peters has paid spe­cif­ic trib­ute to the work of Clamp, Japan’s famous all-female com­ic-artist col­lec­tive known for series like RG VedaTokyo Baby­lon, and X/1999.

Yeats Manga 3

Clamp fans will find that, in three brief pages, Peters touch­es on quite a few of the aes­thet­ic tropes that have long char­ac­ter­ized the col­lec­tive’s work. (You’ll want to click through to Peters’ own “When You Are Old” page to see an extra illus­tra­tion that also fits well into the Clamp sen­si­bil­i­ty.) Yeats fans will no doubt appre­ci­ate the chance to see the poet­’s work in an entire­ly new way. I, for one, had nev­er before pic­tured a cat on the lap of the woman “old and grey and full of sleep” reflect­ing on the “moments of glad grace” of her youth and the one man who loved her “pil­grim soul,” but now I always will — and I imag­ine both Yeats and Clamp would approve of that. You can read and hear Yeats’ 1892 poem here. If you click on the images on this page, you can view them in a larg­er for­mat.

Yeats Manga 4

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Read the Entire Com­ic Book Adap­ta­tion of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Rare 1930s Audio: W.B. Yeats Reads Four of His Poems

Japan­ese Car­toons from the 1920s and 30s Reveal the Styl­is­tic Roots of Ani­me

Col­in Mar­shall writes else­where on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­maand the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future? Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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