'Vacillation' by William Butler Yeats
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The Winding Stair and Other Poems1933IBetween extremities
Man runs his course;
A brand, or flaming breath.
Comes to destroy
All those antinomies
Of day and night;
The body calls it death,
The heart remorse.
But if these be right
What is joy?IIA tree there is that from its topmost bough
Is half all glittering flame and half all green
Abounding foliage moistened with the dew;
And half is half and yet is all the scene;
And half and half consume what they renew,
And he that Attis' image hangs between
That staring fury and the blind lush leaf
May know not what he knows, but knows not griefIIIGet all the gold and silver that you can,
Satisfy ambition, animate
The trivial days and ram them with the sun,
And yet upon these maxims meditate:
All women dote upon an idle man
Although their children need a rich estate;
No man has ever lived that had enough
Of children's gratitude or woman's love.No longer in Lethean foliage caught
Begin the preparation for your death
And from the fortieth winter by that thought
Test every work of intellect or faith,
And everything that your own hands have wrought
And call those works extravagance of breath
That are not suited for such men as come
proud, open-eyed and laughing to the tomb.IVMy fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.VAlthough the summer Sunlight gild
Cloudy leafage of the sky,
Or wintry moonlight sink the field
In storm-scattered intricacy,
I cannot look thereon,
Responsibility so weighs me down.Things said or done long years ago,
Or things I did not do or say
But thought that I might say or do,
Weigh me down, and not a day
But something is recalled,
My conscience or my vanity appalled.VIA rivery field spread out below,
An odour of the new-mown hay
In his nostrils, the great lord of Chou
Cried, casting off the mountain snow,
`Let all things pass away.'Wheels by milk-white asses drawn
Where Babylon or Nineveh
Rose; some conquer drew rein
And cried to battle-weary men,
`Let all things pass away.'From man's blood-sodden heart are sprung
Those branches of the night and day
Where the gaudy moon is hung.
What's the meaning of all song?
`Let all things pass away.'VII
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Vacillation of William Butler Yeats: A Literary Analysis
Are you familiar with the works of William Butler Yeats? If not, then you're missing out on one of the most significant poets of the 20th century. Yeats was a Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet who wrote some of the most memorable works in the English language. Among his many masterpieces is a poem called "Vacillation."
"Vacillation" is a complex and multi-layered work that explores the themes of spirituality, love, and artistic creation. In this essay, we will delve deeper into the poem and try to understand what Yeats was trying to convey through his verses.
Before we proceed with the analysis, it is essential to have some background information about the poem. Yeats wrote "Vacillation" in 1912 and published it in 1914. The poem is part of a larger collection of works called "Responsibilities," which was Yeats' first book of poems after he received the Nobel Prize in 1923.
The poem has three parts, and each part has five stanzas. Each stanza has eight lines and follows a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCD. The poem's structure is symmetrical, with the first and last stanzas being identical, and the middle stanza acting as a bridge between the two.
Now that we have some background information let's dive into the poem's analysis.
Part I: The Choice
In the first part of the poem, Yeats presents us with a choice between two paths – the path of the mind and the path of the heart. He questions whether he should follow the path of reason and logic or the path of passion and emotion.
The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem. Yeats describes himself as a "hermit" who has "no possessions" and is "alone." He is a man who has retreated from the world and is contemplating his life's purpose. He is faced with a choice between "the fire upon the hearth" and "the fire of the mind."
The second stanza presents the path of the heart as a tempting one. Yeats describes it as a "great lover," who can "waken all the furies of the blood." The third stanza, however, presents a different perspective. Here, Yeats warns against the dangers of following one's emotions blindly. He likens the path of the heart to a "leaf that falls in autumn."
The fourth stanza marks a shift in the poem's tone. Yeats begins to question the path of the mind, which he had initially presented as the more rational and logical choice. He asks, "What is it but nightfall?" and describes it as a "cold white realm." The fifth stanza further emphasizes the limitations of the mind, which cannot comprehend the complexities of human emotions.
Part II: The Confession
The second part of the poem is a confession of sorts. Yeats admits that he vacillates between the two paths and cannot make up his mind. He is torn between his rational mind and his passionate heart.
The sixth stanza begins with the famous line, "My fiftieth year had come and gone." Here, Yeats admits that he is past his prime and has not accomplished much in his life. He then goes on to describe his inner turmoil and how he vacillates between the two paths.
The seventh stanza is a bit puzzling. Yeats describes how he dreams of "a woman's face and a child's." It is unclear who this woman and child are, but they seem to represent the path of the heart.
The eighth stanza is a continuation of the seventh. Yeats describes how he hears "the cry of the heart" and how it is "everywhere." He is tormented by this cry and cannot ignore it.
The ninth stanza is a turning point in the poem. Yeats declares that he will "make a friend of all / Who wear sweet masks." He seems to have decided to follow the path of the heart and embrace his emotions.
Part III: The Meditation
The third and final part of the poem is a meditation on the nature of love and artistic creation. Yeats examines the role of the artist in society and how love and passion inspire great works of art.
The tenth stanza is a reflection on the nature of love. Yeats describes it as a "wandering, many-scented thing." He acknowledges that love is a mysterious and elusive force that cannot be tamed or controlled.
The eleventh stanza is a continuation of the tenth. Yeats describes how love can inspire great works of art. He compares the artist to a "lover of life" who can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
The twelfth stanza is a reflection on the role of the artist in society. Yeats argues that the artist has a duty to create works that reflect the beauty and complexity of life. He states, "We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless / Furnace of this world."
The thirteenth stanza is a call to action. Yeats urges the reader to "choose some noble cause / And champion it." He is calling on the artist to use their talents to make a positive impact on the world.
The final stanza is a repetition of the first. Yeats concludes the poem with the lines, "We who still labour by the cromlech on the shore, / The grey cairn on the hill, when day sinks drowned in dew, / Being weary of the world's empires, bow down to you, / Master of the still stars and of the flaming door." These lines are a homage to the ancient Celtic gods and a recognition of the power of spirituality and mysticism.
"Vacillation" is a complex and multi-layered work that explores the themes of spirituality, love, and artistic creation. Yeats presents us with a choice between the path of reason and the path of passion, and he ultimately advocates for following the path of the heart. He recognizes the power of love and creativity to inspire great works of art and calls on the artist to use their talents to make a positive impact on the world.
Overall, "Vacillation" is a powerful and thought-provoking work that continues to resonate with readers today. Yeats' poetic genius shines through in every line, and his insights into the human condition are both timeless and profound.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Vacillation: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, wrote the poem "Poetry Vacillation" in 1920. This poem is a part of his collection "The Wild Swans at Coole," which is considered to be one of his best works. "Poetry Vacillation" is a complex and multi-layered poem that explores the nature of poetry and the poet's relationship with it. In this article, we will analyze and explain this masterpiece in detail.
The poem "Poetry Vacillation" is divided into two parts, each consisting of six stanzas. The first part of the poem is about the poet's struggle to find inspiration and the second part is about his realization that poetry is not just about inspiration but also about discipline and hard work.
In the first stanza of the poem, the poet introduces the concept of "vacillation," which means indecision or wavering. He says that he is "torn between" two things, which are "the beauty of the world" and "the ugliness of human behavior." This conflict between beauty and ugliness is a recurring theme in Yeats' poetry. He is torn between his desire to create beautiful poetry and his awareness of the ugliness of the world.
In the second stanza, the poet talks about the "lonely impulse of delight," which is the inspiration that drives him to write poetry. He says that this impulse is like a "bird" that comes and goes as it pleases. This bird is a metaphor for inspiration, which is fleeting and unpredictable. The poet is aware that he cannot rely on inspiration alone to create great poetry.
In the third stanza, the poet talks about the "passionate intensity" that drives him to write poetry. He says that this intensity is like a "fire" that burns within him. This fire is a metaphor for the poet's passion for poetry. He is driven by a desire to create something beautiful and meaningful.
In the fourth stanza, the poet talks about the "cold passion" that he feels when he is not inspired. He says that this passion is like a "moon" that shines on him even when he is not inspired. This moon is a metaphor for the poet's discipline and hard work. He knows that he cannot rely on inspiration alone and that he must work hard to create great poetry.
In the fifth stanza, the poet talks about the "masks" that he wears when he writes poetry. He says that he wears different masks depending on his mood and inspiration. These masks are a metaphor for the different personas that the poet adopts when he writes poetry. He is aware that he must be flexible and adaptable in order to create great poetry.
In the sixth stanza, the poet talks about the "dancer" that he becomes when he writes poetry. He says that he becomes like a dancer who is "lost in the dance." This dancer is a metaphor for the poet's immersion in his work. He is so absorbed in his poetry that he loses himself in it.
The second part of the poem begins with the seventh stanza, in which the poet realizes that poetry is not just about inspiration but also about discipline and hard work. He says that he must "choose between perfection of the life or of the work." This choice is a metaphor for the poet's realization that he must balance his personal life with his work as a poet.
In the eighth stanza, the poet talks about the "cold heaven" that he must face when he writes poetry. He says that he must face the "cold heaven" of discipline and hard work in order to create great poetry. This "cold heaven" is a metaphor for the poet's realization that he must work hard and be disciplined in order to create great poetry.
In the ninth stanza, the poet talks about the "passionate earth" that he must face when he writes poetry. He says that he must face the "passionate earth" of inspiration and creativity in order to create great poetry. This "passionate earth" is a metaphor for the poet's realization that he must be inspired and creative in order to create great poetry.
In the tenth stanza, the poet talks about the "lonely impulse of delight" once again. He says that this impulse is not enough to create great poetry. He must also have discipline and hard work. This realization is a turning point in the poem. The poet realizes that he cannot rely on inspiration alone and that he must work hard to create great poetry.
In the eleventh stanza, the poet talks about the "master of the dance" that he becomes when he writes poetry. He says that he becomes like a master of the dance who is in control of his movements. This "master of the dance" is a metaphor for the poet's mastery of his craft. He is in control of his poetry and knows how to create great works.
In the twelfth and final stanza, the poet talks about the "choice" that he must make between inspiration and discipline. He says that he must choose discipline in order to create great poetry. This choice is a metaphor for the poet's realization that he must balance inspiration with discipline in order to create great works.
In conclusion, "Poetry Vacillation" is a complex and multi-layered poem that explores the nature of poetry and the poet's relationship with it. The poem is divided into two parts, each consisting of six stanzas. The first part is about the poet's struggle to find inspiration and the second part is about his realization that poetry is not just about inspiration but also about discipline and hard work. The poem is full of metaphors and imagery that add depth and complexity to the poet's message. "Poetry Vacillation" is a masterpiece that showcases Yeats' mastery of his craft and his deep understanding of the nature of poetry.
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