By popular demand, folks (remember, four million readers can’t be wrong!), I’ve decided to begin my hour-by-hour history of the Bérubés in North America. You see, it all began in 1671 when Damien Bérubé, born in Rocquefort, France, came to settle in Rivere Ouelle, Québec, about 100 miles up the St. Lawrence River from Québec City. “Il fait froid,” said Damien as he looked around for stuff to do. Eight years later, he married Jeanne Savonnet, and eventually, thanks in part to the passage of the Corn Laws, their issue led to the Esquire Lounge Incident of 1994, which we’ll cover in a later installment.
Now to more important matters! Lindsay Beyerstein, a.k.a. Majikthise, guest-blogger extraordinaire and good soul, is celebrating a birthday today. Moreover, she is being visited by one Amanda Marcotte, who is visiting NYC for the first time on her way to the National NOW Conference in Albany. As you may recall, long ago when Pandagon was the home of Ezra Klein and Jesse Taylor, Lindsay did a guest-blogging gig there (in March 2005), and Jesse introduced her like so:
Lindsay Beyerstein from Majikthise, who in addition to being seven kinds of smart, is also an eighth, previously considered theoretical kind of smart that was thought unsustainable outside of sealed laboratory conditions.
Another of the guest Pandagonians back then was one Amanda Marcotte, who wound up staying there full-time. But apparently, these two titans have never met—until today.
And you know what we think of Ms. Marcotte here on Le Blog Bérubé. We consider her pretty much infallible, at least by recent Papal standards, and not merely because she guest-blogged here in May or because of her French-Canadian surname, which plays a minor role when the Bérubé legend gets to the 1970s and I have to write about hard-skating Boston Bruins left wing Donny Marcotte. So what this means is that if Lindsay and Amanda are in the same place, the people of New York are now experiencing a kind of bloggy Syzygy of Smart, and all the better for them. Please welcome Amanda to New York, and wish Lindsay a happy birthday.
Now to the Yeats blogging. The moment I awoke from my post-transatlantic flight nap on July 5, Janet gathered me up and took me and Jamie to the Yeats exhibit at the National Library of Ireland. The first item in the exhibit is a small octagon-shaped, room-like installation (with benches) called “Verse and Vision,” in which six Yeats poems are projected onto walls and read aloud by six different Irish poets. I came in for “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” which was kind of unfortunate, since I’ve never particularly cared for that one, and it was read by Yeats himself in a strange, angry, gravelly voice that suggested someone was doing a “Pirates of Innisfree” parody.
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Now, I have nothing against this Celtic Twilight sort of thing. On the contrary, I love the final stanza of “The Stolen Child,” particularly “the kettle on the hob/ Sing peace into his breast,” and goodness gracious, that one’s even got faeries in it—as the poem’s speakers, no less!
Away with us he’s going,
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
from a world more full of weeping than you can understand.
Even still, as I listened to Yeats read “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” I thought of Ford Madox Ford’s brutal non-twilighty rewrite of it. If you’ll open your copy of Michael Levenson’s A Genealogy of Modernism to page 112 (I’ll wait), you’ll find a very crabby Ford saying, “I didn’t like his confounded point of view. I hated, and do still hate, people who poke about among legends and insist on the charms of remote islands.” And the result is this:
At Innisfree there is a public-house;
They board you well for ten and six a week.
The mutton is not good, but you can eat
Their honey. I am going there to take
A week or so of holiday to-morrow.
You just can’t get any more prosaic than that.
And yet, as the mysterious and elusive Janet Lyon remarked in the margins of page 112 twenty years ago when she and I were reading Levenson’s book for the first time, “for Chrissake—the poem was written 21 years earlier.” It’s a fair cop: by the time Ford got around to demystifying Innisfree, Yeats himself had gone through about two or three major shifts in confounded points of view. After all—and let’s get this much straight before we go any further—when you talk about Yeats you’re talking about the greatest English-language poet of the twentieth century, and speakin’ literarily, Ford Madox Ford doesn’t have the chops to stand in the same bean-row with him. Not least among Yeats’s marvels—that is, quite apart from his vast emotional range, his technical brilliance as a poet, and his stunning experiments in modern drama—is the fact that his fifty-year career is full of twists and turns and fresh starts and rethinkings like those of almost no other modern artist in any medium. Picasso maybe, but then if you pair Picasso’s late work with Yeats’s you’ll get a sly old horndog doodling to himself over against an artist still plumbing the uncanny depths of his gift, returning again and again to the deep heart’s core, to the foul rag-and-bone shop from which he constructed all his many masks.
And then suddenly, under the cold and rook-delighting heaven, “Sailing to Byzantium” appeared on the walls. The poem is practically shorthand for middle-late Late Yeats as “Innisfree” is for Early: as “Julia” is to “This Boy” in the Lennon corpus, say. I gather that this here blogger might have something to day about the poem, since his blog takes its name from the second stanza. In fact, reading over the second stanza is a little like reading Hamlet—both are so full of quotations! Check it out:
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
But this is just warmup, folks, for the devastating third stanza:
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
You just can’t get any more incendiary-yearning than that.
In fact, when I heard that stanza, particularly its second four lines, I broke out in a cold sweat. I could slip my way down the sinuous slant-rhymes of wall, soul, animal, but I got stuck on “fastened” and couldn’t get loose. Fastened to a dying animal. Jesus H. Christ. Next to this, T. S. Eliot’s evocations of old age (which, of course, he began writing at about the age of nine) look thin and watery. And fastened: how much more evocative, and more powerful, than a cognate like “tethered to” or “burdened with”: it says “held fast,” sure, and it merely tells us what we already knew, namely, that this sublunary sphere and all its flailing fleshly creatures are impediments and worse. But as Viktor Shklovsky would say, it renews perception, it makes the stone stony. It’s almost impossible, I think—no matter how old or young you may think you are—to read that line without becoming sick with desire—and viscerally aware of the dying animal that houses the desiring. Remember “The young/ In one another’s arms, birds in the trees” from the poem’s opening lines? Yes, well, now you know why your poet referred to them not as emblems of burgeoning life but as “those dying generations.” For as Yeats sails east, sick with desire, he speaks of a most Buddhist wish to be free of all attachment, not least to the dying animal in which his soul is temporarily encased. No, that’s not quite right: to which his soul is fastened.
I lingered over “fastened” partly because I have some idea of how painstaking a poet Yeats was, how assiduously he worked and reworked every last line. The famous passage from the middle-early early poem “Adam’s Curse” --
I said, “A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world.”
-- is basically a gloss on the man’s entire career of stitching and unstitching. Later in the exhibit (though we’re not quite there yet) I came across a draft of “Byzantium” in which Yeats had actually scratched out “Those images that yet/ Fresh images beget” and, for “fresh,” had written “more.” OK, so that was a bad call, and of course Yeats knew it too, because he re-freshed that line before committing it to print. But that’s what stitching and unstitching requires: lots of pains-taking unstitching along the way.
And no sooner had I stopped meditating on “fastened” than I began again on “artifice of eternity.” If “fastened to a dying animal” makes the stone stony, “artifice of eternity” loads every rift with ore, partly because of its evocation of the eternal in the artificial (Yeats will manage another series of brilliant riffs on this in “Lapis Lazuli”) and partly for its suggestion that eternity is itself an artifice, dreamed by souls sick with desire and fastened to dying animals. And to be gathered into the artifice: no other word will do. These are not faeries stealing a child. These are sages standing in a holy fire, and either they gather us or they don’t, but we pray, we pray that they will.
It really is a goddamn sublime stanza (as opposed to a beautiful stanza). The only moment that doesn’t transport me is “perne in a gyre,” which sounds kind of cool on its own (someone like Hart Crane might have liked it too, what with his love of thick, textured words like “calyx”) but (a) is syntactically set off from the rest of the stanza as a kind of gloss on the sages in the holy fire and (b) like the opening line of “The Second Coming,” inevitably makes me think of A Vision, which I’ve read in its entirety, which in turn reminds me that when it comes to combining jawdropping artistic brilliance and jawdropping batshit nuttiness in the same persons, no literary period can hold a candle to modernism. Really, postmodernism is only a pale fire by comparison.
After all that, though, the final stanza is actually something of an anticlimax.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
It’s almost like the exposition, the action plan after the harrowing cri de coeur: right, then, once out of nature I will go to Innisfree, where for ten and six I will be such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make. . . .
So after hearing “Sailing to Byzantium,” I got up and wandered around the rest of the exhibit in a more scholarly temper, checking out drafts and early letters and such things, stopping for a long time at the wonderful installation “Poetry in Process: Building the Tower,” which includes not only an illustrated map, so to speak, of the publication history of each of the poems in The Tower (1928) but also (get this!) a terrific line-by-line, stanza-by-stanza recounting of how Yeats wrote and rewrote “Sailing to Byzantium.” I was interrupted a few times by a couple of noisy student groups, dying animals all, being herded through the exhibit, but I managed to get enough of it to compose a moment’s thought.
My goodness, I said to myself. I’m having a Sailing to Byzantium Day.
And then I came upon a textual note that reminded me of something I think I might once have known: in 1930, Yeats’s friend T. Sturge Moore (who designed the original cover for The Tower) wrote to him,
Your Sailing to Byzantium, magnificent as the first three stanzas are, lets me down in the fourth, as such a goldsmith’s bird is as much nature as a man’s body, especially if it only sings like Homer and Shakespeare of what is past or passing or to come to Lords and Ladies.
Whoa, I said, like unto Keanu Reeves in at least eight different movies. Now I am having a Sailing to Byzantium Lets Me Down in the Fourth Stanza Day. And with that, I headed straight to “Byzantium,” the poem Yeats wrote in response to Moore’s criticism. We are now fully in the realm of the uncanny, where even the poem that strives to find the terms for the uncanny has to unwrite itself as it goes. “Before me floats an image, man or shade,/ Shade more than man, more image than a shade”; “Miracle, bird, or golden handiwork,/ More miracle than bird or handiwork”: each time, only the least tangible not-thing thing will suffice . . . but even that doesn’t quite suffice. And “A mouth that has no moisture and no breath/ Breathless mouths may summon”? Never mind who or what is doing the summoning here (the mouth or the mouths); this is terrifying stuff. This is much, much stranger than any goldsmith’s bird or any golden bough. This is, quite literally (and therefore paradoxically, as the poem well knows), unreal. And as you make your way through the unreal, thread, if you can, the asyntactical structure of those last five lines.
The unpurged images of day recede;
The Emperor’s drunken soldiery are abed;
Night resonance recedes, night-walkers’ song
After great cathedral gong;
A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.
Before me floats an image, man or shade,
Shade more than man, more image than a shade;
For Hades’ bobbin bound in mummy-cloth
May unwind the winding path;
A mouth that has no moisture and no breath
Breathless mouths may summon;
I hail the superhuman;
I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.
Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
More miracle than bird or handiwork,
Planted on the starlit golden bough,
Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
In glory of changeless metal
Common bird or petal
And all complexities of mire or blood.
At midnight on the Emperor’s pavement flit
Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,
Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,
Where blood-begotten spirits come
And all complexities of fury leave,
Dying into a dance,
An agony of trance,
An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.
Astraddle on the dolphin’s mire and blood,
Spirit after spirit! The smithies break the flood,
The golden smithies of the Emperor!
Marbles of the dancing floor
Break bitter furies of complexity,
Those images that yet
Fresh images beget,
That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.
I now feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off. That is all.
Thanks for bringing Yeats back from Ireland with you, Michael. That was a fine read.Posted by on 07/19 at 02:52 PM
Gawd. I have the same skull-less feeling.Posted by on 07/19 at 02:56 PM
Damn, Michael. I was there in the Motherland a while back and they were hyping this outside the NM, but it wasn’t up yet. I envy you and the folks seeing it.
Can I recommend a pint at Grogan’s on South William Street as a skul-restorative.
Remember, Yeats is fine, but as Jem Casey (the Poet of the Pick) would tell you:
“A pint of Plain is your only man.”Posted by on 07/19 at 03:06 PM
Thanks very much.Posted by on 07/19 at 03:29 PM
Why, when i read this, do i get the sense that one of my own great grandchildren (well hopefully at least one) will, upon reading the poem, ask their parent (one of my grandchildren currently alive) what sort of mythical creature a dolphin was? Like unicorns and golden birds (and/an albatross), the dolphin will be just another symbolic icon. If my skull wasn’t blown off, i’ld tear my hair out.Posted by on 07/19 at 04:04 PM
Mmmmm-- nice torch, four and a half volts.Posted by on 07/19 at 05:36 PM
This is why four million readers show up. An amazing post - in all the possible meanings of “amazing”.
(captcha word: “effort”, although it seems you write effortlessly).Posted by on 07/19 at 05:54 PM
Thanks Michael, I’ve been writing about those poems of late and it was a pleasure to read your considerations of them. Only now I really want to go to Dublin.Posted by on 07/19 at 09:07 PM
I’d put Stevens, Eliot, and probably Auden ahead of Yeats myself. And Ford’s prose compares quite well with Yeats’s, unless you’ve perned yourself dizzy.Posted by Jonathan on 07/19 at 09:09 PM
No, no, no. It is Yeats, Stevens, Auden, then Eliot. That is quite clear. Stevens edges Auden on the strength of his great long poems, but Auden gets many points for breaking out of his opaque early verse and into the great lyrics and elegies of the 1930s and 1940s, thence to wholly new things like The Sea and the Mirror. And Eliot is as far behind the first three as Hale Irwin was behind Nicklaus, Weiskopf, and Miller in the 1975 Masters. I can prove it using nothing more than six lines of ottava rima and a 3-iron. Meanwhile, in the brilliant poet-critic category, it’s Auden way over Eliot. Give me The Dyer’s Hand any day.
And Ford’s prose is pretty damn good, but it was bean-rows we were talking about, Jonathan.
Everyone else—thanks very much for reading this one. I only wish I could have spent another hour in the exhibit, but we were at Jamie’s (very patient) limit. Janet had already been three times, herself. . . .Posted by Michael on 07/19 at 09:55 PM
The hockey, you know, is odd enough but understandable. But golf?
This anti-Eliotic contrarianism is also too fashionable.Posted by Jonathan on 07/19 at 10:12 PM
Putting him fourth is contrarian? I’m a Hale Irwin fan, I’ll have you know. The man shot an unheralded 64 in his final round at Augusta that year to sneak in behind the Big Three and their exceptionally dramatic finish. Besides, the whole anti-Eliot thing is so 1988.Posted by on 07/19 at 10:33 PM
I believe the correct list is: Yeats, mumble, shift gaze, mumble, can’t think of another who spent his main energy on poetry instead of masturbation, grumble, or maybe impressing undergraduate coeds, shrug, wander off. Then Richard Wilbur or somebody.Posted by on 07/19 at 11:05 PM
lovely, lovely. Not too fond of best lists, though I’d go for the Third Man and then Les Enfins du Paradis, or was it the Grand Illusion? I’m so fond of Eliot that I can easily grant you your loves.Posted by on 07/19 at 11:14 PM
I’m printing this one out and sending it to a poet friend in a Zen monastery.Posted by Chris Clarke on 07/19 at 11:57 PM
Thanks for the Yeatsian detour. The following anecdote may amuse or, alternately, enrage you, but it attests to the very mixed reception of Yeats by British academics.
While at Boston University, I had the opportunity to hear Christopher Ricks and Geoffrey Hill go at it, tooth and claw, over Yeats, Hill claiming Yeats as, like you, the great English language poet of the twentieth century and Ricks arguing, and these are his very words, that outside of “Sailing to Byzantium” “Yeats never wrote a *true* poem” (his emphasis).
In classic Ricksian hieratic fashion, he never explained why everything after “Sailing” was simply so many false notes; he had delivered his judgment and that was apparently enough.
For myself, while I find Yeats’s politics absolutely repellant, many of his poems, even some of those from his youth with their preference for hyphenated expressions like “dove-grey sands” and so forth, are jewel-like in their perfection. A lovely example of a fine early work is “When You Are Old” from The Rose, my reading of which, I am convinced, is the reason my wife eventually took leave of her senses and married me.
You’ve already quoted abundantly from some of my favorite later Yeatsian works, so there’s no need to rehash them. I’ll end by saying that although Yeats could slip into ocassional triteness, especially in poems written for specific occasions such as the elegy for Lady Gregory’s son “In Memory of Major Robert Gregory"--I have in mind here the gratuitous references to Gregory as “our Sidney and our perfect man,” which ring a bit false--even in a poem like this he can suddenly suck all of the air out of a room, as in the heartbreaking conclusion to the penultimate stanza. I’ll quote it in full:
Some burn dam faggots, others may consume
The entire combustible world in one small room
As though dried straw, and if we turn about
The bare chimney is gone black out
Because the work had finished in that flare.
Soldier, scholar, horseman, he,
As ‘twere all life’s epitome.
What made us dream that he could comb grey hair?
Simply effing amazing.
EricPosted by on 07/20 at 12:36 AM
I’ve had the “Collected Auden” next to the crapper for the last couple of years, and it’s been revelatory in more ways than one. I’ve been wondering where to go next, so thank you, thank you, thank you. The “Collected Yeats” is up next for my future poetic contemplation.Posted by sfmike on 07/20 at 01:58 AM
The line, “O sages standing in God’s holy fire” might refer to Orthodox services
Altogether, the priest will be at the altar on Sunday morning for over three hours, “standing in the flame,” as one Orthodox priest put it.
and the services might have been even more prolonged in the past.Posted by on 07/20 at 03:55 AM
I say fellows, don’t go all anglopile and thanatocentric on us now. Not everyone bitches about getting older.
Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face
how did this happen
well that’s who I wanted to be
at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
that’s my old man across the yard
he’s talking to the meter reader
he’s telling him the world’s sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips.
- Grace P.Posted by on 07/20 at 04:08 AM
Hey, everybody has moments of triteness, Eric. What’s astonishing is the sheer number and variety of Yeats’s moments of incandescence. And while I won’t go to the mat for the man’s politics (as you might imagine), I do think it’s worth looking again at his 1925 Senate speech against the anti-divorce bill. If you can get past his chest-thumping bit about the Anglo-Irish being “one of the great stocks of Europe,” you’ll find this:
You are to legislate on purely theological grounds, and you are to force your theology upon persons who are not of your religion. Once you attempt legislation on religious grounds you open the way for every kind of intolerance and for every kind of religious persecution.
Say amen, brother.
Oh, and thanks for passing along Christopher Ricks’ little bolus of nonsense. Remarkable stuff. But then, that sort of thing used to pass for literary “criticism” among some of the cognoscenti, you know. Which was why Northop Frye wanted so badly to rid the profession of all “the literary chitchat which makes the reputations of poets boom and crash in an imaginary stock-exchange.” A perfectly understandable sentiment in the light of such Ricksisms, though I still insist that Eliot is like unto Hale Irwin in the 1975 Masters and that the Mississippi Valley Poetry Conference (Eliot, Ransom, Tate) is not quite as strong or as deep as the Big East (Whitman, Dickinson, Stevens, Williams).Posted by Michael on 07/20 at 08:56 AM
Frazier’s Golden Bough was published in 1922. Sailing to Byzantium dates from 1926 or 1927; Byzantium is from 1930. You probably know that. But you can’t discuss the “golden bough” imagery intelligibly without acknowledging the reference.
PS- thanks for the opportunity to read these again.Posted by on 07/20 at 09:23 AM
Thanks for letting me start at least one day on a happy note. Agree with you on Yeats, nobody reached the heights as often as he—Auden is my second love.Posted by on 07/20 at 09:37 AM
Hey, JR, you can’t discuss a good chunk of that post-Waste Land modern poetry without you have heard of a book by the name of ‘The Golden Bough’ but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Sir James George Frazer, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.Posted by on 07/20 at 10:05 AM
This whole post is a sham. Michael claims to have heard Yeats read, yet insists that wall, soul, animal are slant rhymes. I’m not buying it.Posted by Scott Eric Kaufman on 07/20 at 10:33 AM
For my money, nothing speaks the irreconcilability between absolute desire and the mortal vessels it traverses like the lines
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war’s alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms.Posted by on 07/20 at 12:30 PM
JR, The Golden Bough was published in 1890.Posted by on 07/20 at 12:43 PM
I’m not much of a poetry reader, but these are amazing.
And I like the family history and am looking forward to the rest of the story. (I’m Virginian--I come by my love of family histories honestly.)Posted by on 07/20 at 12:48 PM
Michael, I’ve just this summer been finishing up an edition of the first version of A VISION, and i have to agree with you re astonishing beauty + overwhelming wackery. Great post re the poems; like some of your other readers, I envy your seeing this exhibition.Posted by Isis on 07/20 at 01:34 PM
Who were the Irish poets reading the other poems?
I myself think Heaney is making a fair bid to at least equal WB.Posted by Thers on 07/20 at 01:54 PM
Is there an implied verb “break” in the last sentence of “Byzantium”? The smithies break the flood, marbles break the furies (of mere complexity), and those images [break?] the sea. The parallel seems sound—the magical props of his mythical Byzantium break (i.e., “break through”, as a whale breaches) “all that man is”.
If so, it’s hardly asyntactical (though of course I know what Michael means).Posted by on 07/20 at 01:57 PM
Actually, Scott, all my posts are shams—except this one. Just a bunch of circus animals, you know.
Pat, thanks for the reminder about Yeats’s “Politics.” You may know that that was the poem with which Yeats wanted to conclude Last Poems, and that the Collected Poems (whose first edition ended with “Under Ben Bulben” instead) were revised accordingly.
Sam, glad you like ‘em. There are plenty more where these came from. . . .Posted by Michael on 07/20 at 02:12 PM
Thank you for this, Michael! I am sending a poet friend of mine over here. We both love Yeats, he as a poet, and I as a reader. I also once played The Guardian of the Well, Woman of the Sidhe, and Aoife, all in the same evening
I also wish to know which poet read Sailing to Byzantium, as someone asked up above.Posted by on 07/20 at 02:26 PM
Vance, I’m so glad someone took me up on those five lines. “Marbles of the dancing floor/ Break bitter furies of complexity,” is clear enough. We have been told three times that we are beyond all mere complexities by now: “A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains/ All that man is,/ All mere complexities,/ The fury and the mire of human veins.” Likewise with the revision of stanza four of “Sailing” in the “more miracle than bird or handiwork” that “scorn[s] aloud/ In glory of changeless metal/ Common bird or petal/ And all complexities of mire or blood.” Thence to the midnight “flames begotten of flame,/ Where blood-begotten spirits come/ And all complexities of fury leave.”
But then: do the marbles of the dancing floor also break “Those images that yet/ Fresh images beget”? That seems to be the most obvious reading, syntactically. Or are the marbles of the dancing floor—or, for that matter, the bitter furies of complexity—themselves the images that yet fresh images beget (echoing the “spirit after spirit” riding the “dolphin’s mire and blood")? That’s entirely possible too. Do the images in turn break [through] the sea, as you suggest, or is the dolphin-torn, gong-tormented sea itself one of those images—one of those fresh images begotten when “the unpurged images of day recede” in line one? All I’m saying is this: syntactically, those images are floating free in the penultimate and antepenultimate lines . . . which is, I imagine, just what Yeats wanted them to do.
It’s one of those cold pastorals that dost tease us out of thought, I think.Posted by Michael on 07/20 at 02:30 PM
Oh, how I have been remiss. I am very distracted today.
I also wish to know which poet read Sailing to Byzantium, as someone asked up above.
Gentlewoman, it took me three long hours to write this post, and fully thirty minutes of that time was spent in combing through the National Library materials to find out who read “Sailing to Byzantium.” It’s just bizarre that there are no credits for the other five readers (i.e., other than Yeats himself on “Innisfree"). I’m very sorry I can’t answer this one, even to myself, because the reader (whoever he was) did a fine job. I do remember, though, that Paula Meehan read “The Wild Swans at Coole.” Which reminds me to tell ana, in comment seven, that I do not write effortlessly. On the contrary, a line will take me hours maybe, especially when I have to look things up.
Charles Pierce, il miglior fabbro, in comment three: Janet had been in Dublin for two weeks before I arrived, and she pointed out Grogan’s to me along the way. She herself had stopped in for a pint not long before, along with Theo Dorgan (one half of the dynamic poetry duo that is Theo Dorgan and Paula Meehan) and company. I would be honored if you would join me there for a pint or two anytime in the next thirty years.
And Eric, though I’ve already replied in part to your comment 16, I should have said, as well, that those lines in “In Memory of Major Robert Gregory” are indeed effing amazing. Janet asked “What made us dream that he could comb grey hair” at the funeral for her friend Jimmy Crofts last year (the husband of her closest friend, Gail); Jimmy died at 48 after a mysterious illness, and even though I went so far as to write about that funeral, I didn’t mention that line. It’s too powerful for a mere blog.
Captcha: reading.Posted by Michael on 07/20 at 02:49 PM
Good points, Michael. I was reading as if “complexity” in the last stanza were followed by something more final than a comma. The strict alternation between the magical prop and what it breaks is a possible reading, but indeed it can’t be the only one.
Great as this is, I have to confess that I feel a certain limitation or rhetorical circularity. This Byzantium, after all, is his invention, and to evoke it in order to tell you how evocative it is....it’s an touch of self-praise, or perhaps a celebration of the magic of literature and the imagination.
PS. I trust when you wrote “That is all” you were joking.Posted by on 07/20 at 02:52 PM
I trust when you wrote “That is all” you were joking.
Yes, but even worse, I was restraining myself. I actually wanted to do more of a reading of those lines (as in comment 33), but decided to let Yeats—and an allusion to Dickinson—have the last word.Posted by on 07/20 at 03:02 PM
Of writing many glosses there is no end.Posted by on 07/20 at 03:17 PM
Michael, are you grieving over goldengrove unleaving?Posted by on 07/20 at 03:35 PM
- Posted by on 07/20 at 03:36 PM
Not exactly, Amanda, though I can say that as the heart grows older, it will come to such sights colder by and by, nor spare a sigh though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie. If it hasn’t been said before, that is.
And don’t bring no rough beast around here, JP, or I’ll be forced to unearth my “Second Coming” parody, which I wrote in my first year of graduate school.Posted by on 07/20 at 03:46 PM
The golf references did it, or the praise for Hale Irwin, a man who won twice as many senior tournaments than PGA ones, and who won three majors-all US Open. He may be up the proverbial Hall of Fame ladder, but there are many on rungs above him. Watching the British Open today, there was a commentary about the difference between Woods and Nicholas at this point in their careers. The stat that got my attention was that Jack took 19 second places in majors (well he did win a bunch too). Nineteen times he was second. Does that count???
Marbles of the dance floor??
Too many sporting events in my return to this realm, so i see this phrase in their contexts-- marbles on the dance floor (the downhill finish run) today in the Tour sent France’s leading rider (Dessel) sprawling into the brush costing him three classification places. Marbles on the dance floor (F1 French Grand Prix course) kept Alonzo from passing Massa in the chicanes in the early going, allowing Schumaker to maintain and increase his lead. Marbles on the dance floor (British Open greens) sent online putts mysteriously offline just at the last break to the cup. gosh.. i forgot this was a literature based thread, sorry. Captcha word “private” which showed up yesterday as well, weird. Guess i will keep my thoughts to myself.Posted by on 07/20 at 04:02 PM
Never took you for the uncouth sort that would parodize canonical verse, Dr. Bérubé.Posted by Chris Clarke on 07/20 at 04:03 PM
Yes, such low sport should be beneath us, Chris. About parody they were never wrong, the old bastards. . . .Posted by on 07/20 at 04:12 PM
Unearth! Unearth! Unearth!Posted by on 07/20 at 04:24 PM
Is that some kind of sprung-rhythm thing, Amanda? I can’t find it in “Spring and Fall.” Or maybe it’s from Williams’ “Spring and All”?Posted by on 07/20 at 04:41 PM
This post and the comments remind me both of why I was tempted to major in English and why I ultimately made the right decision (for me) not to. But thanks for a great read and a reminder to some of us less literary types that cracking open a poetry book now and then can be worth the effort.Posted by on 07/20 at 04:51 PM
An ode to bring? Unearth! (So shy.) Perform:
The flakes will find no landing place to swarm.
Trolls bend themselves to claim it dull and old,
And still they quail at being counter-troll’d.Posted by Chris Clarke on 07/20 at 04:54 PM
I’ll second Amanda’s sentiment in verse (if that’s what it takes to make sense around here).
A parody is i-cummin in
Lhude sing, cuccu!
was never the worse
for the sport of the uncouth.
Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calve cu;
Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth;
Murie sing unearth!
I only hope your parody of “The Second Coming” is better than mine, attempted in my first year of high school, and delivered in a public speaking course. My teacher, a Jesuit, called it “blasphemous--and worse, sophomoric” (the parody mainly involved self-abuse). Since I was a freshman, I decided “sophomoric” was a compliment. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t.Posted by on 07/20 at 05:05 PM
All right, by popular and pentameter demand (Amanda and Chris, respectively), here is “The Second Quarter” by me. Ahem, ahem!
Turning and turning in the wishbone backfield
The flanker cannot hear the quarterback;
Teams fall apart; the center cannot snap;
Severe penalties are called against the Rams.
The Crimson Tide is loosed, and everywhere
The spectacle of halftime shows is drowned.
The best miss all conversions, and the worst
Have great defensive secondaries.
It gets worse from there—I recall something about
The Second Quarter! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Super Bowl VII
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sprawl of L.A.
A shape with Csonka’s body and the head of a man,
A fullback as unstoppable as Maud Gonne,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all around it
Flail the limbs of the incompetent defensive ends.
You don’t want to know how this concludes, believe me. But I will say that I wrote it while dashing off my lone contribution to musical theater, a little grad-student version of a classic from Oz, in which I work the names of two University of Virginia libraries into the first stanza:
I would while away the hours
In Alderman and Bowers
‘Til insights I did find,
I would write coherent theses,
Be a genius of my species
If I only had a mind.
I would not be such a jackoff,
Not knowing Synge from Chekhov
Or Woolf from Gertrude Stein.
I’d astound with my conjectures
What a smash I’d be at lectures
If I only had a mind.
I forget what I did with the middle eight, but I think Larry Csonka is somewhere in there too.Posted by on 07/20 at 05:15 PM
But, Michael that’s the magic of talent isn’t it? The effort is so well hidden it seems it isn’t there.Your writing is like “haute couture”: nobody sees the invisible - and painstaking - stitches that hold everything together, only the flawless “grand final” that flows down the runway (err, blog...).Posted by on 07/20 at 05:33 PM
Heh heh. Heh. Pat said “verteth.”Posted by on 07/20 at 05:35 PM
Ah, Michael, that’s so much better than mine.Posted by Chris Clarke on 07/20 at 06:07 PM
May I propose that “the goddamn sublime” hereby be entered into the official academic lexicon? It is a truly glorious phrase.
Anyway, here goes nothingness:
I love your reading of “Sailing to Byzantium,” and your focus on “sick with desire/ and fastened to a dying animal.” Those lines have always struck me as the most poignant expression of mortality that I have ever read.
I’ve never been quite sure how to read “To keep a drowsy emperor awake.” It seems like an extraordinarily frivolous description of the function of art, especially after the poet’s journey through the “holy fire.” One would have expected Yeats to emerge from all that hammering in the sages’ smithy with a touch of heat, seeing into the heart of the light, but he steps from the flames casting a cold eye, indeed.
Perhaps my desire to see the bodiless Yeats enlightening the lords and ladies, rather than merely amusing them, is simply evidence of my own “fastened” condition. The “emperor” line highlights the Buddhist aspects of Yeats’ vision—the complete lack of passion he imagines and strives for—even more profoundly than “consume my heart away,” for it casts art not as some form of profound insight, but rather as a pleasant diversion for the leisured class. For the poet himself to accept that role must mean that he has left behind his own desires and ambitions as an artist, that he is at one with his new, cipher-like and empty condition.
And yet . . . the line literally throws the reader for a loop: don’t those scenes at the end, of the disembodied poet entertaining emperors, lords, and ladies, bring Byzantium back to the earthly realm of desire? Don’t they seem, somehow, hopelessly implicated in exactly the kind of class structures that help define the sensual world of “fish, flesh, or fowl?”? ("Sir, will you be having fish, flesh, or fowl tonight?")
I wonder if that was his point—that, try as we might, we can’t free ourselves, or our visions, from our attachments to this world. As you point out, that’s hardly surprising, given our “fastened” condition. But it makes the poem circular in a way that I had not thought about until I read your post.
I’m reminded of two other works. First, Emerson, in “Circles”:
The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end.
And Eliot, from _The Four Quartets_, “Little Gidding”:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.Posted by Matt on 07/20 at 06:38 PM
I’ve said he’s the only person to have done his best work after getting the Nobel prize.Posted by Brian on 07/20 at 06:50 PM
Amanda, I didn’t say it. It was Anonymous. I will say that “verteth” shares etymological roots with veritas (Latin), vérité (French), verdad, etc. This tickles me b/c it means Harvard’s motto is “farts.” Anyway, this is all apocryphal.Posted by on 07/20 at 06:59 PM
Whew! A lull. Good—I was out playing hockey instead of literary criticizin’ and parodyin’. So, quickly: Brian, wicked good point. Pat, you both used and mentioned the word “verteth.” Heh heh. Heh. Chris, your parody was far more difficult than mine, because you wrote it about laundry—I mean, who the hell would do that? It’s so strange, you just gotta love it. And Matt, thanks for chiming in. You remind me that my first abreaction to the fourth stanza, many years ago, had to do with the role of that bird: it’s Byzantium as Vegas, where the golden bird will play two shows a night for assorted tourists and drowsy elected officials. But your readings of this scenario are quite edifying, I think. Either the poet, fed up with singing schools that study monuments of their own magnificence, is giving up the idea of poetic ambition altogether—or Yeats is suggesting that Byzantium (particularly for disgruntled old men who aren’t quite there yet) can be imagined only in the familiar terms of the earthly realm of desire. And you, madame, would you care to hear “Singing to Byzantium” tonight? Our golden bird’s next show is at 8. Very well. You’re right, this makes the poem circular—though whether that’s satisfying or not depends on how badly you, as a reader, wanted to leave the known world behind in this verse.
And that’s why it was such a stroke of genius for Yeats to answer Moore by placing the next poem in Byzantium, where we are completely free of all earthly desire. (Note that the word, despite its importance in the earlier poem, never appears in the later. “Mire” calls for it twice, dimly, but there is no answer.) Yeah, Vance (comment 35), this involves its own kind of circularity in its implicit celebration of the creative process itself, but when poets pull it off, the circle is charmed indeed.Posted by Michael on 07/21 at 12:36 AM
Thank you, thank you, and thank you. I spent all day cleaning up the detritus of moving, and it was bloody depressing. Seeing “Sailing to Byzantium” on my favorite blog made me forget about the ants and bubble wrap for a while.Posted by on 07/21 at 01:24 AM
Matt, and to some extent Michael, I think you might be being a little generous to Yeats there in reading the line “to keep a drowsy emperor awake” as a quasi-Buddhist acceptance of the poet’s “cipher-like and empty condition.” Consider the source. Yeats really did value high rank and the literally gentle aristocratic way of life, and he seemed not unwilling to serve as a sort of courtier to Lady Gregory and so on.
I mean, look at how insistent he is on that word “gold,” especially in “Sailing.” And he insists on the Emperor, and especially the “golden smithies of the Emperor,” it “Byzantium.” I think Yeats is, with full knowledge of what it entails, rejecting the mire and blood of “lower” humanity for the almost metallurgic refinements of altitudinous society.
Not only would I plump for Yeats’s Byzantium as figured “in the familiar terms of the earthly realm of desire” in the opposition you set up, Michael, I can’t help but hear the faint echo of a “duh.” I rather think the poem insists that transcendence, apotheosis, looks a lot like, say, Blenheim. Or the Taj Mahal. (Gold. Gold. Gold.)
Yeats knows that this is a difficult image, because we keep wanting to figure the poetic landscape of transcendence as a humane communal Innisfree. What the image signifies, I think, is just that poetry is not human. It encompasses and represents and is artificed by the human, but in itself it is unyielding, though beautiful.
I’m reminded, actually, of Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway, where the only true artist (Chazz Pamintieri’s character) no longer has any conscience. His only loyalties are to the art itself. I think Yeats’s vision of the poet is rather similar. Byzantium is a rather cold, hard, surpassingly gorgeous place where the mire and blood of humanity stop their oozings short.
Buddhism (at least, Zen and Tao) could be construed as an amoral philosophy, though. So maybe you’re not so far off the mark.Posted by on 07/21 at 02:33 AM
I’d never read either ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ or ‘Byzantium’. I thank you kindly, Michael.Posted by on 07/21 at 03:25 AM
Thanks. There is certain frisson of reading your post while at a conference in Istanbul (where I could get a discount on Aesthetıcs of Cultural Studıes, except that I would have to pay for shıppıng from UK to US, so I don’t thınk ıt ıs a good deal).
I am also heartened to lean that driving a standard transmission means there is something I can do better than you. I might try working on my anrcıssısm though…Posted by on 07/21 at 11:22 AM
Seeing “Sailing to Byzantium” on my favorite blog made me forget about the ants and bubble wrap for a while.
Lest we end this on a high note, let me suggest combining the cerebral enjoyment of the poetry, with the addictive brain-stem satisfaction of popping the bubbles in the bubble wrap. (Here is some virtual bubblewarp for those without access to the real stuff.)
One can either punctuate the lines with well-timed pops.
Those images that yet *pop*
Fresh images beget,*pop**pop*
That dolphin-torn*pop*, that gong-tormented sea.*pop**pop*
or place them right on the beat
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
*pop* *pop* *pop* *pop*
I will leave further exercises to those less percussively-challenged than I.*
*(this bit of self-deprecation brought to you courtesy of a temporary surfeit of Narcissistic Supply.)Posted by on 07/21 at 05:30 PM
I’m with Amanda on the in-human-ness of Yeats’s sublime. “I hail the superhuman.” And not unrelated to his wack-a-doo elitism. The disgust for common humanity—and also for life—drips from “Byzantium.” The last stanza of “Sailing” disappoints because it’s nuts. The aspiration—to be the golden forged songbird for the royalty. What’s nuts is, Yeats confuses (an imaginary—Byzantine!) royalty with Blake’s Prince of Love, who shut him in a golden cage.
“He caught me in his silken net,
And shut me in his golden cage.
He loves to sit and hear me sing,
Then, laughing, sports and plays with me;
Then stretches out my golden wing,
And mocks my loss of liberty.”
Similar: golden, bird, singing. Different: Blake is singing for the superhuman, Yeats is singing for the inherited political elite; Blake is captured (and protesting?), Yeats is volunteering.
Blake’s golden songbird is his natural self, and it feels to me that Yeats yearns to be Blake and knows he’s not and can’t be.
Yeats’s political confusion was a not uncommon response by the poetical elite to the emergence of mass modernism (as Northrop Frye mentioned, and 3 cheers for Frye!). (And while I sympathize with Pierce’s pint of Plain, I wouldn’t say it’s your only man.)
“the artifice of eternity” is genius, though. The poet’s ambition, like that old movie song says: “Fame! I wanna live forever! I wanna learn how to fly—high!” (More birds!) Yeats’s genius is knowing that it’s artificial—that any “immortality” will be of images alone, and that even Shakespeare’s and Ovid’s names will be washed from the strand by the waves of time eventually.
“Gong-tormented sea” rang my bells the first few reads, but now it’s beeping like a broken refrigerator monitor—a *gong* would torment a *sea*?!? I don’t think so. Unless it’s more bitching about human paltryness—the cathedral gong almost opened the poem, after all.
Or maybe it’s a marijuana allusion? Hoagy Carmichael, here we come.
Ah, to heck with it—sure, the gong torments the sea. The Cathedral gong—sonic emblem of human aspiration for transcendence, an aspiration which IS real, and has real effects—all these fiery spirits, summoned by the gong, and the sea, the sea is tormented --
Anyway, thanks Michael. Great discussion.Posted by john on 07/23 at 05:29 AM
It is “break” that confounds me in the last stanza. Much of that stanza has already been introduced; mire, blood, furies and complexities. The Emperor’s drunken soldiery precede golden smithies of the Emperor, complexities of fury and then bitter furies of complexity. But “break” appears only at the end, twice, and perhaps implied a third time from comments #30 and #33.
I can’t make my normal “break”, what happens to eggs or sometimes bones, fit here. The web dictionary I keep always locked and loaded in a browser tab (and use most often for this blog) isn’t much help. For break it lists 15 n’s and a whopping 63 v’s including “37: emerge from the surface, as of fish in water” speaking again to comments #30 and #33. (The last listing “63: weaken or destroy in spirit or body” offers an example from Yeats — “For a hero loves the world till it breaks him")
The “break” that finishes the poem for me might be distilled from “breakwall”, a structure that determines the place where an ocean wave gives up its energies as it ceases to be a wave. This “break” leaves no damaged residue behind unlike broken eggs or bones. It marks the place of a transformation, acknowledges the transaction, the exchange or changing of energies’ flow. The shape of the wave as it breaks is our perception of its energy just as the gong’s gong is our perception of a different wave breaking a different wall.
Thanks for taking the time to share this fine poem. Ireland and Byzantium are two places I’d never visited.Posted by black dog barking on 07/23 at 07:19 PM
We should have included you in the exhibition! I work for Martello Media, the company who designed and installed the Yeats exhibition for the National Library.
Since you were asking, Sailing to Byzantium was read by Donna Dent. You can find a full list of the poems and who reads them here:
The exhibition is in for three years, and the Library hopes to add more poems to this space during that time. It’s an ongoing work.
Currently I’m working on another two masterclasses, similar to the Sailing to Byzantium breakdown you saw - one for Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen, and another for Leda and the Swan. Can I ask what you thought of the Sailing masterclass? Since it’s there for people like you, we’d love to know what we can add to the next two to make it even better…
PeterPosted by Peter on 07/24 at 11:01 AM
Thanks so much for reading about my visit, Peter! And thanks for supplementing my failing memory (Donna Dent—ah, I should have made a note at the time). I thought the masterclass on “Sailing” was terrific, even though (as I said) I missed a few minutes of it during the parade of student groups. It’s the process of composition that interests me most, especially for long multi-part poems like “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen.” So more of that would be great, though I realize that “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen,” unlike “Leda,” will require some historical background as well.
But I have to admit I’m not quite the caliber of Yeats scholar who deserves to be included in the exhibition. I’m not even the most capable Yeatsian in my house; I’m a distant second. Janet Lyon has read practically every word Yeats wrote in every medium, and will be teaching a pair of Yeats seminars (graduate and undergraduate) in the coming year. Though she is mysterious and elusive (i.e., she does not have her own blog, and only occasionally appears on this one), I think she’d be happy to answer your question about future masterclasses on Yeats’s major poems.Posted by on 07/24 at 11:55 AM
Loved the blog and comments on the Yeats exhbition in Dublin. I am from Ireland and attended the exhbition twice, bringing along my mother and sister the second time. I am now in the wide world, in Australia. I Googled Yeats and dolphin this evening for feed back on reading the extinction of the fresh water dolphin in China. All the material goods that country produces for us, all our money to buy them, all the money spent on killing each other and we extinct a species of dolphin - how more polluted can we get? Yeats was wise to keep his dolphins in the sea - and knowing our human stupidity even they will be extincted by us. Thus how more wonderful the ‘artifice’ of art, the refuge of Byzantium.
In the Nineteen Eighties in Ireland I was unemployed. Ireland then was a countyr for old men, who ran the place for their own ends. I was in the opposite predicament Yeats was in - I was a young man caught in a country made for old men - but had the same yearning to get out of it. I re-wrote the poem Sailing to Byzantium then to contain the same indignation I felt Yeats had and state the yearning to rise above it.
I wish you like it -
WAILING FROM BY SANS-FREEDOM
That is no county for young men. The old
In one another’s arms, birds off the trees
- Those dying generations - at their gong,
Dish, belch, or bowel, defend all summer long
Whatever is forgotten, porn and dries.
Caught in that lust duel music all neglect
Monuments of unagening heart coorect.
A younged man is but a knell-free thing,
A flattered note upon a rick, unless
Corp clap its hands and wring, and louder ring
For ever splatter in its mortal press,
Nor is there wringing rule but labouring
Monuments of its own significance;
And therefore I have walied the seas and come
From the lowly pity of By sans-freedon.
O wages branding in Mod’s dolee hire
As in the old prosaic of a fall
Come from the dolee-hire, perm in a drier
And be the singeing- masters of my soul
Con soon my heart away; sick with the liar
And fastened to a living animal
It knows Lot what it is; and scatter me
Into the artifice of “Intern, sit thee”.
Once out a daychair I shall never take
My bodily form from any daychairal thing
But such a form as heathen boldsmiths wake
Of hammered bold and bold enamelling
To peak a lousy semper poor, a take!
Sure, set upon a bolden bow to ring
To hordes and hades of By sans-freedon
Of what is past, is passing, is to come.
Another poem from the Eighties - good on Yeats and poets of his ilk
In the Syngian street below
The Bronean winds gush forth
Though near dying trumpet blazing
But winter ends and dies her heart.
Yeatses horseman has passed by
The ageing scarecrows of the Grazing Grained
In his Byzantium he perfect lies
Free that one which life had strained.
And the fragrant woods are wrapped
Beside him, a thought of one or two
The fountain of life abounds
Pouring waters, redemptions thrue.Posted by on 01/06 at 08:29 AM
"once out of nature I will go to Innisfree, where for ten and six I will be such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make”
That had me gibbering helplessly with delight. If it had been morning it would have made my whole day, but alas it’s night.
Rest of the post wasn’t bad either…Posted by on 04/06 at 04:38 PM
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Diamond RingsPosted by Belly on 03/31 at 02:57 AM
I have always liked ‘The stolen child’ poem like you. And those English poems are very difficult to be understood.That is my personal feeling and that is why I did not opt for English major!Posted by V on 07/06 at 07:15 PM
When i was taught that poetry during my English classes, I have always liked them. since them I have become a fan of those and keep reading lots of them. this one is a great post indeed!Posted by Helen Gagne - making bracelets on 07/06 at 07:17 PM
Does anyone, here or anywhere, really know what “gong-tormented sea” means, or refers to? The commentaries just say it’s symbolic, but even Yeats wouldn’t have written it just for that effect. He would have had some specific image in mind, derived from reading or conversation. I feel certain I know what this was, but I’m a long way from any good libraries, and the Internet only leads you to that “symbolic” gloss. Before I say what I think Yeats was influenced by, can anyone offer any interpretation at all? Being so out of touch I can’t even be sure what the consensus is, or whether there is a consensus. Nor can I check where I might have come across my reading. More later - but you first!Posted by on 08/26 at 04:18 AM
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Now to the Yeats JN0-343 blogging. The moment I awoke from my post-transatlantic flight nap on July 5, Janet gathered me up and took me and Jamie to the Yeats exhibit at the National Library of Ireland. The first item in the JK0-016 exhibit is a small octagon-shaped, room-like installation (with benches) called “Verse and Vision,” in which six Yeats poems are projected 646-656 onto walls and read aloud by six different Irish poets. I came in for “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” which was kind of unfortunate, since 000-087 I’ve never particularly cared for that one, and it was read by Yeats himself in a strange, angry, gravelly voice that suggested someone was doing a “70-271 Pirates of Innisfree” parody.Posted by on 01/03 at 03:27 AM
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