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"The Second Coming"

The speaker describes a nightmarish scene: the falcon, turning in a widening "gyre" (spiral), cannot
hear the falconer; "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold"; anarchy is loosed upon the world; "The
blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned." The best
people, the speaker says, lack all conviction, but the worst "are full of passionate intensity."

Surely, the speaker asserts, the world is near a revelation; "Surely the Second Coming is at hand." No
sooner does he think of "the Second Coming," then he is troubled by "a vast image of the Spiritus
Mundi, or the collective spirit of mankind: somewhere in the desert, a giant sphinx ("A shape with lion
body and the head of a man, / A gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun") is moving, while the shadows
of desert birds reel about it. The darkness drops again over the speaker's sight, but he knows that the
sphinx's twenty centuries of "stony sleep" have been made a nightmare by the motions of "a rocking
cradle." And what "rough beast," he wonders, "its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards
Bethlehem to be born?"

"The Second Coming" is written in a very rough iambic pentameter, but the meter is so loose, and the
exceptions so frequent, that it actually seems closer to free verse with frequent heavy stresses. The
rhymes are likewise haphazard; apart from the two couplets with which the poem opens, there are only
coincidental rhymes in the poem, such as "man" and "sun."

Because of its stunning, violent imagery and terrifying ritualistic language, "The Second Coming" is
one of Yeats's most famous and most anthologized poems; it is also one of the most thematically
obscure and difficult to understand. (It is safe to say that very few people who love this poem could
paraphrase its meaning to satisfaction.) Structurally, the poem is quite simple--the first stanza
describes the conditions present in the world (things falling apart, anarchy, etc.), and the second
surmises from those conditions that a monstrous Second Coming is about to take place, not of the
Jesus we first knew, but of a new messiah, a "rough beast," the slouching sphinx rousing itself in the
desert and lumbering toward Bethlehem. This brief exposition, though intriguingly blasphemous, is
not terribly complicated; but the question of what it should signify to a reader is another story entirely.
Yeats spent years crafting an elaborate, mystical theory of the universe that he described in his book
A Vision. This theory issued in part from Yeats's lifelong fascination with the occult and mystical, and
in part from the sense of responsibility Yeats felt to order his experience within a structured belief
system. The system is extremely complicated and not of any lasting importance--except for the effect
that it had on his poetry, which is of extraordinary lasting importance. The theory of history Yeats
articulated in A Vision centers on a diagram made of two conical spirals, one inside the other, so that
the widest part of one of the spirals rings around the narrowest part of the other spiral, and vice versa.
Yeats believed that this image (he called the spirals "gyres") captured the contrary motions inherent
within the historical process, and he divided each gyre into specific regions that represented particular
kinds of historical periods (and could also represent the psychological phases of an individual's

"The Second Coming" was intended by Yeats to describe the current historical moment (the poem
appeared in 1921) in terms of these gyres. Yeats believed that the world was on the threshold of an
apocalyptic revelation, as history reached the end of the outer gyre (to speak roughly) and began
moving along the inner gyre. In his definitive edition of Yeats's poems, Richard J. Finneran quotes
Yeats's own notes:
The end of an age, which always receives the revelation of the character of the next age, is represented
by the coming of one gyre to its place of greatest expansion and of the other to its place of greatest
contraction... The revelation [that] approaches will... take its character from the contrary movement of
the interior gyre...
In other words, the world's trajectory along the gyre of science, democracy, and heterogeneity is now
coming apart, like the frantically widening flight-path of the falcon that has lost contact with the
falconer; the next age will take its character not from the gyre of science, democracy, and speed, but
from the contrary inner gyre--which, presumably, opposes mysticism, primal power, and slowness to
the science and democracy of the outer gyre. The "rough beast" slouching toward Bethlehem is the
symbol of this new age; the speaker's vision of the rising sphinx is his vision of the character of the
new world.

This seems quite silly as philosophy or prophecy (particularly in light of the fact that it has not come
true as yet). But as poetry, and understood more broadly than as a simple reiteration of the mystic
theory of A Vision, "The Second Coming" is a magnificent statement about the contrary forces at
work in history, and about the conflict between the modern world and the ancient world. The poem
may not have the thematic relevance of Yeats's best work, and may not be a poem with which many
people can personally identify; but the aesthetic experience of its passionate language is powerful
enough to ensure its value and its importance in Yeats's work as a whole.

"Sailing to Byzantium"
The speaker, referring to the country that he has left, says that it is "no country for old men": it is full
of youth and life, with the young lying in one another's arms, birds singing in the trees, and fish
swimming in the waters. There, "all summer long" the world rings with the "sensual music" that makes
the young neglect the old, whom the speaker describes as "Monuments of unageing intellect."

An old man, the speaker says, is a "paltry thing," merely a tattered coat upon a stick, unless his soul
can clap its hands and sing; and the only way for the soul to learn how to sing is to study "monuments
of its own magnificence." Therefore, the speaker has "sailed the seas and come / To the holy city of
Byzantium." The speaker addresses the sages "standing in God's holy fire / As in the gold mosaic of a
wall," and asks them to be his soul's "singing-masters." He hopes they will consume his heart away,
for his heart "knows not what it is"--it is "sick with desire / And fastened to a dying animal," and the
speaker wishes to be gathered "Into the artifice of eternity."

The speaker says that once he has been taken out of the natural world, he will no longer take his
"bodily form" from any "natural thing," but rather will fashion himself as a singing bird made of
hammered gold, such as Grecian goldsmiths make "To keep a drowsy Emperor awake," or set upon a
tree of gold "to sing / To lords and ladies of Byzantium / Or what is past, or passing, or to come."

The four eight-line stanzas of "Sailing to Byzantium" take a very old verse form: they are metered in
iambic pentameter, and rhymed ABABABCC, two trios of alternating rhyme followed by a couplet.

"Sailing to Byzantium" is one of Yeats's most inspired works, and one of the greatest poems of the
twentieth century. Written in 1926 and included in Yeats's greatest single collection, 1928's The
Tower, "Sailing to Byzantium" is Yeats's definitive statement about the agony of old age and the
imaginative and spiritual work required to remain a vital individual even when the heart is "fastened to
a dying animal" (the body). Yeats's solution is to leave the country of the young and travel to
Byzantium, where the sages in the city's famous gold mosaics (completed mainly during the sixth and
seventh centuries) could become the "singing-masters" of his soul. He hopes the sages will appear in
fire and take him away from his body into an existence outside time, where, like a great work of art, he
could exist in "the artifice of eternity." In the astonishing final stanza of the poem, he declares that
once he is out of his body he will never again appear in the form of a natural thing; rather, he will
become a golden bird, sitting on a golden tree, singing of the past ("what is past"), the present (that
which is "passing"), and the future (that which is "to come").
A fascination with the artificial as superior to the natural is one of Yeats's most prevalent themes. In a
much earlier poem, 1899's "The Lover Tells of the Rose in His Heart," the speaker expresses a longing
to re-make the world "in a casket of gold" and thereby eliminate its ugliness and imperfection. Later,
in 1914's "The Dolls," the speaker writes of a group of dolls on a shelf, disgusted by the sight of a
human baby. In each case, the artificial (the golden casket, the beautiful doll, the golden bird) is seen
as perfect and unchanging, while the natural (the world, the human baby, the speaker's body) is prone
to ugliness and decay. What is more, the speaker sees deep spiritual truth (rather than simply aesthetic
escape) in his assumption of artificiality; he wishes his soul to learn to sing, and transforming into a
golden bird is the way to make it capable of doing so.

"Sailing to Byzantium" is an endlessly interpretable poem, and suggests endlessly fascinating

comparisons with other important poems--poems of travel, poems of age, poems of nature, poems
featuring birds as symbols. (One of the most interesting is surely Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale," to
which this poem is in many ways a rebuttal: Keats writes of his nightingale, "Thou wast not born for
death, immortal Bird! / No hungry generations tread thee down"; Yeats, in the first stanza of "Sailing
to Byzantium," refers to "birds in the trees" as "those dying generations.") It is important to note that
the poem is not autobiographical; Yeats did not travel to Byzantium (which was renamed
Constantinople in the fourth century A.D., and later renamed Istanbul), but he did argue that, in the
sixth century, it offered the ideal environment for the artist. The poem is about an imaginative journey,
not an actual one.

"The Lake Isle of Innisfree"

The poet declares that he will arise and go to Innisfree, where he will build a small cabin "of clay and
wattles made." There, he will have nine bean-rows and a beehive, and live alone in the glade loud with
the sound of bees ("the bee-loud glade"). He says that he will have peace there, for peace drops from
"the veils of morning to where the cricket sings." Midnight there is a glimmer, and noon is a purple
glow, and evening is full of linnet's wings. He declares again that he will arise and go, for always,
night and day, he hears the lake water lapping "with low sounds by the shore." While he stands in the
city, "on the roadway, or on the pavements grey," he hears the sound within himself, "in the deep
heart's core."

"The Lake Isle of Innisfree" is written mostly in hexameter, with six stresses in each line, in a loosely
iambic pattern. The last line of each four-line stanza shortens the line to tetrameter, with only four
stresses: "And live alone in the bee-loud glade." Each of the three stanzas has the same ABAB rhyme
scheme. Formally, this poem is somewhat unusual for Yeats: he rarely worked with hexameter, and
every rhyme in the poem is a full rhyme; there is no sign of the half-rhymes Yeats often prefers in his
later work.

"The Lake Isle of Innisfree," published in Yeats's second book of poems, 1893's The Rose, is one of
his first great poems, and one of his most enduring. The tranquil, hypnotic hexameters recreate the
rhythmic pulse of the tide. The simple imagery of the quiet life the speaker longs to lead, as he
enumerates each of its qualities, lulls the reader into his idyllic fantasy, until the penultimate line jolts
the speaker--and the reader--back into the reality of his drab urban existence: "While I stand on the
roadway, or on the pavements grey." The final line--"I hear it in the deep heart's core"--is a crucial
statement for Yeats, not only in this poem but also in his career as a whole. The implication that the
truths of the "deep heart's core" are essential to life is one that would preoccupy Yeats for the rest of
his career as a poet; the struggle to remain true to the deep heart's core may be thought of as Yeats's
primary undertaking as a poet.
Crazy Jane talks with the Bishop

The Poem
'"'Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop'"' is a short poem in three six-line stanzas. The poem is the sixth in
a series of seven in which Crazy Jane is the persona. The title refers to a fictional character whom
William Butler Yeats based upon an old woman who lived in a little cottage in Gort, a small village
near Galway in western Ireland. He admired her for her audacious speech, her lust for life, and her
satirical eye. She had clearly become an important symbol for him by the time he came to write this
poem; for some time, he had been thinking about what it was that such a cantankerous old woman
might represent.

The poem begins as a confrontation between Jane and a bishop, who happen to meet on a road. The
bishop speaks in the first stanza, and Jane is the sole speaker in the second and third stanzas. That is
the extent of the poem"'"s actions, and they can be understood easily enough at face value. The reader,
however, cannot fail to be struck by the emotionally charged content of the conversation, which is
highly personal in tone. The bishop condemns the woman, apparently for her unkempt appearance.
The implication seems to be that she is leading an unchaste life. Jane responds somewhat defensively,
but even more defiantly. In fact, she seems didactic, as if she is attempting to teach the bishop a lesson
of some sort.

Since the first stanza notes that the two said '"'much'"' to each other, the implication is that the
conversation recorded here is only part of what transpired, or, more likely, that the persona believes
that she has distilled the incident into something of greater significance than its brevity might at first

Forms and Devices

This poem can be appreciated and understood on its own. Insofar as Jane introduces the reader to a
bishop as '"'the'"' bishop, however, and thereby suggests some familiarity between them, there is an
implication that one is coming upon this scene in medias res—that there is a prehistory, which may be
culled from a reading of the other poems in the Crazy Jane series. In this regard, therefore, it shares
somewhat in the balladic tradition, where poems frequently begin without much explanation of all that
led up to the current situation being narrated.

The rhythm in each stanza is basically iambic, alternating each line between tetrameter and trimeter.
The last two lines of each stanza are less regular, ending with a more emphatic spondaic pulse. The
rhyme scheme is abcbdb, efgfhf, ijkjlj (every other line rhymes).

For such a short poem, with a rather humble woman as its central focus, there is a surprising gravity of
tone. Yeats achieves this effect through his masterful use of several devices. The regular rhythm and
rhyme, first of all, call the reader"'"s attention to an artificiality in the discussion, a careful crafting of
the supposedly spontaneous interchange between the bishop and the woman. This artificiality is
accented by the surprising juxtaposition of a childlike nursery-rhyme rhythm and a blunt reference to
the woman"'"s bodily parts by the bishop. The sing-song effect and the crudity of the bishop"'"s gaze
raise further questions in the reader"'"s mind when one looks more closely at the scriptural overtones
of the bishop"'"s language (the parallelism of the consonance in '"'flat and fallen,'"' the biblical allusion
to one"'"s '"'heavenly mansion,'"' and the possible allusion to the parable of the Prodigal Son in '"'some
foul sty'"').

The woman"'"s language is also heavily referential, and it might be said that allusion is the '"'shaping'"'
device in this poem. By avoiding any biblical references of her own and replacing them with religious
allusions that are less clear, she makes her message even more earthy than the bishop"'"s. Lines 7 and
8, for example, call to mind the opening scene of William Shakespeare"'"s Macbeth (1606), in which
three witches frame what is to follow: By setting a countervailing anti-Christian tone, their words and
presence suggest that there may be a fate controlling Macbeth and all other humans that cannot be
easily contained within any theological explanation. Lines 17 and 18 seem an allusion to the sexual
violence of Yeats"'"s own poem '"'Leda and the Swan'"' and bring with the allusion all that earlier
poem"'"s respectful references to a pre-Christian philosophy of life.

Such simple yet highly referential language maintains a lyrical and even lilting sound to the lines
while forcing them to carry more freight than immediately meets the eye. In effect, Yeats asks the
reader to look beyond the niceties of poetic diction to the brutal dichotomies (nursery rhyme/lyric
ballad of loss; man/woman; religion/sex) that are central to the controlled discussion between these
two characters. These dichotomies are most obvious in the use of puns in the last stanza, specifically
the play on the words '"'sole'"' and soul, hole and '"'whole.'"' '"'Rent'"' may pun on the double meaning
of tearing something in two and leasing rather than owning outright.

Themes and Meanings

The Crazy Jane series, like much of Yeats"'"s poetry, remains enigmatic. Why, after all, choose such
an unlikely persona for this series? Why, in this particular poem, is there the harshness of this
encounter with a bishop? Every poet develops a personally significant vocabulary and set of place
names and images, but this is especially true of Yeats. Part of the reason for the particularity of his
imagining in this poem can be explained by its theme, but, as with much of Yeats"'"s vision, part of
the reason remains (probably intentionally) mysterious.

The claim made for him by many to be the greatest lyric poet of the twentieth century rests upon his
unique expression of three worlds: that of the rustic Celtic imagination he found in Sligo in western
Ireland, that of the politics of Dublin, and that of the literary sophistication of London. Crazy Jane
arises from the world of Sligo. To these influences Yeats added a truly extraordinary interest in finding
something meaningful beyond the material world, while at the same time celebrating the material
world specifically as a manifestation of the ethereal. This quest for a non-Christian, quotidian
'"'incarnation'"' is the key to this poem and to many of his best poems.

What becomes clear from the other Crazy Jane poems is that one is to listen more respectfully to her
insights into life than one is to those of someone like the bishop. He has far more importance in the
eyes of the world, and he represents an orthodox interpretation of life"'"s meaning, but his pharisaical
judging of Jane suggests that it is he who is essentially dead inside. The reader also learns from the
earlier poems that the bishop may, himself, have loved her at one time.

The dichotomies of this poem are, in fact, the key to its theme, which has to do with the resolution of
'"'antinomies'"' (as Yeats called sets of opposites) that obsessed him throughout his poetic career. It is
true that Jane"'"s breasts are flat and fallen, but her retort is an exuberant celebration of the fact that
this very body remains for her the physical location of love. That is a painful and difficult
'"'resolution,'"' but Yeats seems to suggest that it is the only one possible for a human being to make.
Rather than reject love (and lust) as worthless because impermanent or somehow filthy, Jane takes
what may seem to be a carpe diem position: make hay while the sun shines. The implication of her
lesson to the bishop goes further, however, since the sun is no longer shining for her and she is
nevertheless affirming the value even of transient love.
Yeats was almost seventy when he wrote this poem, and, like many of the poems from this period, it
expresses his own renewed passion for life and for love. Among the closest in theme to this one is
'"'The Circus Animals"'" Desertion'"' (1939), especially in its closing stanza. '"'Crazy Jane Talks with
the Bishop'"' might also be read in conjunction with '"'Among School Children'"' (1927), a poem
concerned with Maud Gonne and aging love. Very much aware of his own failing body, the poet
seems nevertheless to embrace it, in spite of—or because of—all of its '"'holes.'"' Fixated on the
body/soul dichotomy that has dominated Western philosophy, Yeats celebrates the body as the seat not
only of excrement, but also of all that is transcendent.

Among School Children

The poem was inspired by a visit that Yeats made to a Co. Waterford school in 1926. As a member of the senate he was
part of a committee which was reviewing the working of a new curriculum established in a number of model schools. The
opening stanza of the poem places Yeats in a classroom situation. The faces of the children remind him of Maud Gonne.
He begins to question the ageing process and his quest for 'unity of being'. The poem was, he said, his 'last curse on old

Stanza I:Yeats is in a county Waterford school room in the company of a kind old man faced by the staring
eyes of the children. Yeats' public persona unmask is evident in this stanza as he adopts the pose of -: "A sixty-
year-old smiling public man" while in reality he is a bitter aging unfulfilled poet. The kind old man and Yeats
are in clear contrast to the youthful faces of the children and it is this stark reality that turns the poets mind
inwards. He also visits the Felve system. Yeats sees it as regimented and not providing for the individual
response that he associates with artist and writer.

Stanza II: Yeats' mind immediately turns to thoughts of Maud Gonne. He again uses the metaphor of Helen of
Troy in describing Maud Gonne as 'Ledaean body'. The image he conjures up is of a present day Maud
reminiscing about his childhood and allowing Yeats an insight into that period of their life. Yeats first met
Maud when they were teenagers when she visited his home in London. He felt because their childhood was
spent apart that their relationship was lacking in some understanding. By learning of her childhood, Yeats now
believed that they would achieve the perfect platonic relationship. He uses the idea of Platos parable from the
work Symposium. In that work Plato suggested that male and female were identical at birth but grew apart as
they developed. Yeats investigated the image suggesting that while he and Maud were born apart they have
gradually come closer together, so that they are comporable to the yolk and white of one egg. His preoccupation
has continued into stanza three.

Stanza III: In this stanza he wonders if any reminder of her as a child can be seen in the faces in the children
sitting before him. Although he describes Maud Gonne as a semi-devine image, he recognises that there may be
a similarity between her and the childhood of ordinary children -: "For even daughters of the swan can share
Something of every paddler's heritage" The belief in this possibility excites in Yeats the idea of Maud Gonne as
a child:- "She stands before me as a living child."

Stanza IV: In this stanza the reality of the present reasserts itself and an image of an ageing Maud Gonne is
presented, however, even in what is a less than perfect image, Yeats finds a means to attribute a magnificence to
Maud. He compares her to a renaissance sculptor which were remarkable for the realism in which they
portrayed the subject while still retaining an artistic perfection. Maud Gonne's features are therefore portrayed
as -: "Did Quattrocento finger fashion it Hollow of cheek as though drank the wind And took a mess of shadows
for its meet?" Yeats though realising his imperfections also sees the degradation of his own state with age. In
the final lines of stanza four, Yeats, rather than admit to the reality, puts on a mask - the sixty year old smiling
public man redescribed as-: "a comfortable kind of old scarecrow."

Stanza V:In this stanza Yeats moves from a personal and universalises his theme. He is fascinated by the aging
process and the mortality of man. He wonders if a mother nursing her new born son would, if she saw him as a
sixty year old man, felt that the pain of childbirth was worth it given the decrepid state of her sons body. He
sees the process of birth as a turmoil for the child suggesting that birth is accompanied by the timing of
forgetfulness which gradually includes the infant to forget the prenatal existence in the womb. He interprets the
suckling of a new born child as symbolising a battle memory and forgetfulness as on one hand the child seeking
to return to the prenatal environment and as the other is forced by its humanity to continue with its mortal

Stanza VI: In stanza six Yeats investigates the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle and Phythagarous. Plato's
philosophy suggested that this world was but a shadowy reflection of the real world. Aristotle by contrast had a
more prismatic philosophy. As the tutor of Alexander the Great, Aristotle's philosophy was givin an opportunity
to prove himself and did so by the military victories by his pupil. Phythagarous saw the world in terms of music
and he believed that the alignment of the planets was comparable to the musical notes on a scale. None of the
philosophers provide a solution for Yeats. As each declined into old age and died.

Stanza VII:In this stanza Yeats considers the question of the worshipper and the worshipped . He begins with a
seemingly paradoxical comparison between nuns and mothers. Suggesting that an image worshipped by a
mother i.e. infant child, while differed from the statues worshipped by nuns are in essence as unresponsive-:
"Yet they too break hearts" What Yeats means here is that a child will not always returns to its mothers love or
with- "With sixty or more winters on its head" will not match up to the perfect image it has of it. While a
religious statue representing the saint will not always answer the nuns prayers. In the second half of the stanza
he introduces a third element that of the unrequited lover (that is Yeats himself) and suggests that all those who
worship images of perfection are ultimately disappointed by them, the reality is not the ideal - that the images
we create in our mind are far removed from the actual object that forms our love.
Stanza VIII:The original draft of the poem finished at the end of stanza VII but on reflection, Yeats felt that it
was too pessimistic. Stanza VIII provides us with a passable refuse from this pessimism a suggestion that
perhaps unity of being is obtainable. Yeats provides us with two metaphors-: i) a chestnut tree. He shows that
the tree is made up of many separate components -: "Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?" but in doing
this he recognises that the essence of the tree is its unity-: "Great-rooted blossomer" Similarly Yeats recognises
that it is impossible to speculate the dancer from the dance as one without the other would not exist.

When you are old

'When you are old...,' by William Butler Yeats, is rich with mythical imagery. The ambiguity of certain
images is found within its transitions. For instance, as the first line turns into the second a general
meaning is transformed into something more particular; the sleep of impending death becomes the
weariness of one "nodding by the fire."

Throughout the poem these kinds of transitions of meaning continue, lending a sort of hypnotic quality
to the imagery that entrances the reader. The notion of the sleep of death packed into a certain moment
wherein one is nodding by the fire is a hook promising deeper levels of meaning. Once brought into
the movement of the poem, its content also appeals to me emotionally; the journey from youth to old
age is briefly traced in a few tightly-packed phrases, suggesting the reality of sorrow and wasted time
and the regret of forsaking the opportunity for Love.

The images are stark but flowing. The first two lines suggest comfort in old age. Death is not a violent
end but something one "falls into" as easily as sleep. There is ambiguity here -- to sleep next to a cozy
fire may be an attractive proposition, yet given the age and the connotation of the sleep from which
one does not awaken in this world, she who is "nodding by the fire" may also be "dying by the fire,"
expiring as a fire is also extinguished.

On the other hand, the broad notion of nearness to death and the subversive fears and sadnesses it
connotes is quickly brought into focus with a contrasting concrete image: an elderly somebody
nodding by a fire. She who is "old and grey and full of sleep" begins to read. The phrase "full of sleep"
both carries the broad connotation of death, and describes the sleeping that leads to dreaming.
Reading, then, these words, she begins to dream about the past and her own youth in a self-reflective

The second stanza is descriptive of her dream of the past. As a transition from the first stanza into the
second, she remembers her own "soft look," her eyes and "their shadows deep." From this image of
her youthful gaze we are brought back to a more general view again; she is reminded of those who
loved her "moments of glad grace" and her "beauty with love false or true." Both "grace" and "beauty"
are vague and nondescript, yet these lines work to contrast those who loved these general aspects of
her with the "one man" who loved her pilgrim soul. This seems to suggest a love willing to journey
into age as a companion with her, still loving the "sorrows" of her "changing face" as she shifts
through the years.

The deep shadows of her eyes, the vague "soft look" becomes more concrete as one imagines her
"changing face" and the sorrows that come through experience. Yet, the one man who forsees in her
pilgrim soul the inevitability of growing old, and is still willing to love her, is apparently rejected by
her, possibly in favor of those who temporarily love her "grace" and "beauty." From this is implied
regret, the sadness of missed opportunity in years that have slipped away.

The dream continues as she bends "down beside the glowing bars" of the fire, perhaps seeking warmth
or comfort -- suggesting the desire and need for the fiery love she once rejected. She murmurs, as
those who are alone might instead of speaking aloud, testifying to her isolation, "a little sadly." From
this concrete image the dream again expands, and we see Love, capitalized as an absolute, fleeing,
effortlessly into mountainous distances.
His face hid "amid a crowd of stars," an abstract image issuing from a more concrete description of
loneliness and regret, speaks to that which is beyond her reach; it is a love that has become perfect and
absolute in itself, which makes her feeling of sad regret all the more stark. The poem begins "When
you are old...," rather than "Now that you are old...," which suggests that it is a warning, or a judgment
upon an unrequited subject of love.

Broken Dreams

William Butler Yeats exemplifies aging and his devotion for love in his poem Broken
Dreams , as he expresses his emotions and reflection on life.

In this poem Yeats uses time as an example of progression in one s life to depict age. In
relation time and age both are parallels of one another. Progression in time and age are two motifs that
are presented throughout the poem. In addition, over time appearance is affected as one ages. It seems
that this poem is about a woman in Yeats life, which he can t have, and can only see her age as time
passes. Aging is often shown by the change in hair color, grey in your hair , which most frequently
turns one color. Indefinitely, grey symbolizes growing old and meager. The existence of grey hair
directly relates to the change of physical appearance as well, which is being affected by time and age.
One must be aware that physical characteristics are just the appearance and what will last is your inner
trait, Your beauty can but leave among us , and beauty is a characteristic that can be present at one
time but may not stay forever. Aging is natural and can t be stopped but the perception can be still the
same of one s outlook. In this poem Yeats perception throughout the poem is seen through the same
eyes, but by watching woman overtime notices that change engulfs her. History creates memories
similarly, how grey becomes the color of one s hair as time passes.

Memories are contributed by the past and can be everlasting. The connotations of vague
memories presume to have an immediate significance throughout the poem. To many people
memories are very important and special part in human life, because they might only be the thing that
will keep one motivated to live. Yeats, living on Vague memories, nothing but vague memories, it
portrays the halt of time. This portraying that when recollecting these memories time is in our hands. It
is human nature to recall memories that make us happy yet sometimes these memories are the least bit
appealing, which brings tears to our eyes. The repetition of vague memories , are indications of
recollection and reminiscing, which is everything that Yeats embraces of his beloved. The lady that is
presented plays an imperative role, by being the one that is undergoing change, yet Yeats longing for
this women stays consistent throughout the poem. In addition, Yeats devotion to her All day in the
one chair/ From dream to dream and rhyme to rhyme I have/ranged, exposes the power that memories
have on him, by sitting in one chair all day. Yeats uses vague memories to represent the different
stages of this lady s life. First, having beautiful features and overall characteristics, finding no flaw,
but as time passes, he becomes aware of one flaw which are her hands. Her small hands being her flaw
states that one is perfect. He can see reality by her imperfection even with his admiration towards her.
In essence, Yeats contains vague memories and is aware that no human is flawless.

In conclusion, William Butler Yeats emphases love through aging and reminiscing towards the
lady in the poem. The author accomplishes this by the connotations of the different stages of life and
symbolizing grey as the color of old age. In addition, as time passes and events gather into memories
which is the motivation for Yeats to live. This poem ignites that life peaks at some point and falls
down like a rollercoaster ride, where death is its toll. Overall memories are cherished and special to
each individual person which is clearly illustrated through the motifs of Yeats beloved physical traits
overtime. Masked by sorrowful language and tone the poem can first be mistaken to be one of
depressing themes, yet with thorough analysis it can be seen as a poem for the complete opposite a
poem of inspiration and hope.
No Second Troy

The poem is organised into four rhetorical questions in lines 5, 10, 11, 12. A rhetorical question is a question in
which the answer is implied and therefore doesn't demand an answer. It is used here by Yeats as a means of
coming to terms with the reality of his relationship with Maud Gonne. The opening statement of the poem
"Why should I blame her that she filled my days with misery" can interpreted as a disclaimer or as absolution
for Maud Gonne. Yeats recognises that Maud Gonne's character made her act the manner in which she did,
though this resulted in misery for him, there was little blame that he could attach to her.

The second statement "or that she would of late have taught to ignorant men most violent ways" contains both
praise and criticism of Maud Gonne. The men who supported her are described by Yeats as ignorant by
comparison with her intelligence, but Yeats does not support the use of violence, he fears that she will be
responsible for a revolution, which would pitch Ireland against the might of the British Empire - "Or hurled the
little streets upon the great". The use of the word "hurled" contains another criticism of Irish Nationalists who
because of a shortage of weapons, drilled with hurley sticks and Yeats saw Maud Gonne leading those hurley-
wielding men into battle with the British Army. The rhetorical question is completed as Yeats asks "had they
but courage equal to desire?" suggesting that these "ignorant men", unlike Maud Gonne, lacked the courage to
rise up. This is why Yeats was particularly surprised by the 1916 Rising and later in his poem "Easter 1916"
paid tribute to the bravery of those men.

The second rhetorical question provides Yeats an explanation of the character of Maud Gonne. She is described
in terms of classical beauty, in a series of warlike metaphors and similes. In lines 6 - 10, the poet attempts to
understand the mind of Maud Gonne. He describes it as being noble with the simplicity of fire, a simile
designed to explain her temperament. The tautness of her features is described as a tightened bow, conjuring up
images of:

a) Skin stretched over perfectly formed cheekbones.

b) A face that could straight away erupt in a barrage of warlike language.

This epic is, in the words of Yeats, "not natural in an age like this" but what is more in keeping with Classical
Greece or Rome therefore the implied comparison of Helen of Troy. The stern haughty demeanor of Maud
Gonne is, in Yeats' opinion, consistent with her character. In line 11, he asks another question by way of
explanation "Why, what could she have done being what she is?". In this line Yeats has come to terms with
Maud Gonne, has convinced himself that the character she possessed could only have resulted in the actions she
carried out.

The poem concludes with the final rhetorical question and the warning of an apocalyptic future, "Was there
another Troy for her to burn" - was Maud Gonne's fiery brand of Nationalism and the attractions she held for
men to be responsible for a revolution which would leave the city of Dublin in flames?

The poem represents a period in Yeats' career when he was finding it difficult to come to terms with his own
unrequited love for Maud Gonne. This allows him to be extremely critical of her involvement in Nationalist
politics because it distracted her from his attention and because he believed that the men involved with her were
unworthy of her. The poem was written in 1912 and the rising which indeed took place in 1916 taught Yeats a
salutary lesson.

Down By The Salley Gardens (Irish: Gort na Saileán) is a well-known poem by William Butler Yeats
included in his book, The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems, published in 1889. Yeats indicated
in a note that it was "an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by
an old peasant woman in the village of Ballysodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself."[1] Yeats's
original title, "An Old Song Re-Sung", reflected this; it first appeared under its present title when it
was reprinted in Poems (London: T. Fisher Unwin) in 1895.[2] The verse was subsequently set to music
by Herbert Hughes to the air The Maids of the Mourne Shore in 1909. There is also a vocal setting by
the poet and composer Ivor Gurney, which was published in 1938.