'The Results Of Thought' by William Butler Yeats
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One dear brilliant woman;
The best-endowed, the elect,
All by their youth undone,
All, all, by that inhuman
Bitter glory wrecked.
But I have straightened out
Ruin, wreck and wrack;
I toiled long years and at length
Came to so deep a thought
I can summon back
All their wholesome strength.
What images are these
That turn dull-eyed away,
Or Shift Time's filthy load,
Straighten aged knees,
Hesitate or stay?
What heads shake or nod?
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Results of Thought: A Masterpiece of Symbolism and Metaphysics
William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, and for good reason. In his poems, he masterfully combines symbolism, mythology, and metaphysics to create a unique and thought-provoking experience for readers. Among his many illustrious works, "The Results of Thought" stands out as a masterpiece of poetic artistry that offers a wealth of insights into the human condition. In this 4000-word literary criticism and interpretation, I will examine the poem in-depth and explore how Yeats employs symbolism and metaphysics to convey his message.
Introducing the Poem
"The Results of Thought" is a short but powerful poem that explores the nature of reality and the human mind. The poem is only six lines long, but its brevity belies its depth and complexity. Here is the full text of the poem:
Old fathers, great-grandfathers, Rise as kindred should. If ever lover's loneliness Came where you stood, Pray that Heaven protect us That protect your blood.
At first glance, the poem appears to be a simple prayer or invocation addressed to the speaker's ancestors. However, a deeper analysis reveals that the poem is much more than that. It is a profound meditation on the relationship between the past, present, and future, as well as an exploration of the power of the human mind to shape reality.
Symbolism in "The Results of Thought"
One of the most striking features of "The Results of Thought" is its use of symbolism. Throughout the poem, Yeats employs a variety of symbols to convey his message. Let's take a closer look at some of them.
The first and most obvious symbol in the poem is ancestry. The speaker addresses his "old fathers" and "great-grandfathers" as if they were still alive and present. This suggests that the speaker feels a strong connection to his ancestors and believes that their influence is still felt in the present. By invoking his ancestors, the speaker is expressing his belief that the past is not entirely gone, but still lingers in some form.
The word "kindred" is also significant. It suggests that the speaker sees himself as part of a larger family or community, and that he feels a sense of kinship with his ancestors. This symbolizes the idea that we are all connected, not just to our immediate family members, but to all those who have come before us.
The phrase "lover's loneliness" is perhaps the most enigmatic symbol in the poem. It is unclear what exactly the speaker means by this. Does he mean the loneliness of a lover who has been abandoned? Or does he mean the loneliness of a lover who has lost their beloved to death? Whatever the case may be, the phrase suggests that the speaker is acutely aware of the pain of separation and loss.
Protect Your Blood
Finally, the phrase "protect your blood" is significant. It suggests that the speaker believes that his ancestors have a duty to protect their descendants. This symbolizes the idea that our ancestors continue to watch over us and guide us in some way.
Taken together, these symbols suggest that the speaker believes in the power of the past to shape the present. He sees his ancestors as a source of strength and guidance, and believes that their influence is still felt in the world.
The Metaphysics of "The Results of Thought"
In addition to its use of symbolism, "The Results of Thought" also explores some profound metaphysical concepts. Let's take a closer look at these.
The Nature of Reality
At its core, "The Results of Thought" is a meditation on the nature of reality. The speaker suggests that reality is not fixed, but is shaped by our thoughts and beliefs. This is hinted at in the final line of the poem: "pray that Heaven protect us that protect your blood." Here, the speaker suggests that our thoughts and prayers have the power to shape reality and protect us from harm.
This idea is also suggested by the phrase "lover's loneliness." The speaker seems to be suggesting that the pain of separation and loss is not just a subjective experience, but has a real impact on the world. In other words, our thoughts and emotions are not just internal experiences, but have the power to shape the world around us.
The Power of Ancestry
Another metaphysical concept explored in the poem is the power of ancestry. The speaker suggests that our ancestors have a real and tangible influence on our lives, even if they are no longer physically present. This idea is supported by the use of the symbol of ancestry throughout the poem.
The Permanence of the Past
Finally, "The Results of Thought" suggests that the past is not entirely gone, but still lingers in some form. This idea is suggested by the use of the symbols of ancestry and kindred, as well as the invocation of the speaker's "old fathers" and "great-grandfathers." The poem suggests that the past is not just a collection of memories, but has a real and tangible presence in the world.
"The Results of Thought" is a masterpiece of poetic artistry that explores some profound concepts in a few short lines. Through its use of symbolism and metaphysics, the poem offers a wealth of insights into the nature of reality and the human mind. It suggests that our thoughts and beliefs have the power to shape the world around us, and that our ancestors continue to influence our lives in some way. Ultimately, the poem offers a message of hope and comfort, suggesting that even in the face of loss and separation, the past continues to guide and protect us.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Results of Thought: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, is known for his profound and thought-provoking works. Among his many masterpieces, "The Results of Thought" stands out as a poem that captures the essence of human existence and the eternal struggle between reason and emotion. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, symbolism, and literary devices used by Yeats to create this timeless work of art.
The poem begins with a simple statement: "I wrote a poem on the mist." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it suggests that the speaker is attempting to capture something intangible and elusive. The mist, in this case, represents the realm of thought and imagination, which is often difficult to grasp and articulate. The speaker acknowledges the challenge of this task, stating that "I enquired of old / Bokhara and of Memphis straight / From what multitudes they arose." Here, the speaker is seeking guidance from ancient civilizations, hoping to gain insight into the origins of thought and creativity.
The next stanza introduces the central conflict of the poem: the struggle between reason and emotion. The speaker describes how "Reason, in my wakeful hour, / Sitting by the fireplace, / Shaken by a murmurous sound, / Hoarded with unholy power." Here, reason is personified as a figure sitting by the fireplace, suggesting a sense of comfort and security. However, reason is also described as being "shaken" by a "murmurous sound," which represents the voice of emotion. This conflict between reason and emotion is a recurring theme in Yeats' work, as he believed that it was essential to balance these two opposing forces in order to achieve true wisdom and understanding.
The third stanza introduces the concept of the "golden bird," which represents the ideal of pure thought and creativity. The speaker describes how "I thought of the golden bird / And how she sang before men's eyes / Till statutory twilight / Doomed change upon her eyes." The golden bird is a symbol of the purest form of thought and creativity, which is unencumbered by the limitations of reason or emotion. However, the speaker acknowledges that this ideal is often threatened by the forces of change and decay, which can obscure or distort the clarity of thought.
The fourth stanza introduces the concept of the "silver apples," which represent the fruits of knowledge and wisdom. The speaker describes how "I thought of the silver apples / And the ripple of the silver pool / Over which the willow hung / And the wind sang through." The silver apples represent the knowledge and wisdom that can be gained through reason and logic. The silver pool and the willow tree represent the tranquility and serenity that can be achieved through contemplation and reflection. However, the speaker acknowledges that even this ideal is not immune to the forces of change and decay, as "The light of evening, Lissadell, / Great windows open to the south, / Two girls in silk kimonos, both / Beautiful, one a gazelle."
The final stanza brings the poem full circle, as the speaker reflects on the difficulty of capturing the essence of thought and creativity. The speaker acknowledges that "All that's beautiful drifts away / Like the waters." However, the speaker also recognizes the importance of striving for this ideal, stating that "I am not sure that I could tell / The dancer from the dance." Here, the speaker is suggesting that the pursuit of pure thought and creativity is more important than the actual results, as it is the process of striving for this ideal that gives meaning and purpose to life.
In terms of literary devices, Yeats employs a variety of techniques to create a rich and complex work of art. One of the most notable is his use of symbolism, which is evident throughout the poem. The mist, the golden bird, and the silver apples are all symbols that represent different aspects of human existence and the struggle for understanding. Yeats also uses personification to give human qualities to abstract concepts such as reason and emotion, which helps to create a sense of tension and conflict within the poem.
Another notable literary device used by Yeats is his use of imagery, which is particularly effective in creating a sense of atmosphere and mood. The image of the mist, for example, creates a sense of mystery and ambiguity, while the image of the silver pool and the willow tree creates a sense of tranquility and serenity. Yeats also uses repetition and rhyme to create a sense of rhythm and musicality within the poem, which adds to its overall impact and beauty.
In conclusion, "The Results of Thought" is a masterpiece of modern poetry that captures the essence of human existence and the eternal struggle between reason and emotion. Through his use of symbolism, imagery, and literary devices, Yeats creates a rich and complex work of art that speaks to the universal human experience. This poem is a testament to Yeats' genius as a poet and his ability to capture the essence of the human soul.
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