'Are You Content?' by William Butler Yeats

AI and Tech Aggregator
Download Mp3s Free
Tears of the Kingdom Roleplay
Best Free University Courses Online
TOTK Roleplay

I call on those that call me son,
Grandson, or great-grandson,
On uncles, aunts, great-uncles or great-aunts,
To judge what I have done.
Have I, that put it into words,
Spoilt what old loins have sent?
Eyes spiritualised by death can judge,
I cannot, but I am not content.

He that in Sligo at Drumcliff
Set up the old stone Cross,
That red-headed rector in County Down,
A good man on a horse,
Sandymount Corbets, that notable man
Old William pollexfen,
The smuggler Middleton, Butlers far back,
Half legendary men.

Infirm and aged I might stay
In some good company,
I who have always hated work,
Smiling at the sea,
Or demonstrate in my own life
What Robert Browning meant
By an old hunter talking with Gods;
But I am not content.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Are You Content?" by William Butler Yeats: A Rich Exploration of Human Desire

Are you content? It's a question that seems simple enough on its surface, but as we delve deeper into William Butler Yeats' poem of the same name, it quickly becomes apparent that the answer is far from clear-cut. Through rich imagery, powerful metaphors, and carefully crafted language, Yeats draws us into a world where human desire is both beautiful and dangerous, where contentment is never quite within our grasp.

The Poem's Structure

Before we dive into the poem itself, let's take a look at its structure. "Are You Content?" is a sonnet, a form that Yeats was particularly fond of. Its fourteen lines are divided into two quatrains (four-line stanzas) and two tercets (three-line stanzas), with a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. The poem's meter is iambic pentameter, with each line consisting of ten syllables and a stressed-unstressed pattern.

But why does this matter? Well, for one, the sonnet is a form with a rich history in literature, often used to explore themes of love, beauty, and mortality. By using this form, Yeats is not only paying homage to tradition but also setting the stage for the complex themes he'll be exploring in "Are You Content?"

The First Quatrain: An Invitation to Explore

Let's dive into the poem itself. The opening quatrain sets the tone for what's to come:

I call on those that call me son, Grandson, or great-grandson, On uncles, aunts, great-uncles or great-aunts, To judge what I have done.

From the very first line, Yeats is inviting us into a conversation. He's addressing those who are tied to him by blood or tradition, asking them to take a critical look at his life and work. The use of familial terms ("son," "grandson," "great-grandson," "uncles," "aunts," etc.) creates a sense of intimacy and connection, but it also sets up an expectation that what follows will be deeply personal and revealing.

But what is Yeats asking to be judged? He doesn't say explicitly, but the implication is that he's seeking judgment on his life as a whole. He's asking those closest to him to weigh his accomplishments and failures, to determine if he's lived up to their expectations.

The Second Quatrain: The Allure of Desire

The second quatrain is where Yeats really starts to dig into the meat of his poem:

Knowing that I am slippery stuff: Like a fieldrat, giving a slip, Or a furty heifer that breaks away, Or a stallion when I neigh.

Here, Yeats is acknowledging his own slipperiness, his tendency to evade and escape. He compares himself to various animals – a fieldrat, a heifer, a stallion – all of whom have a wild, untamed quality. This is no coincidence; Yeats is drawing a parallel between these animals and the wild, untamed human desires that drive us all.

The imagery in this stanza is particularly powerful. The fieldrat, heifer, and stallion are all creatures that are difficult to pin down, and the reader can't help but feel a sense of excitement and danger in their movements. Yeats is suggesting that desire – whether it's sexual, creative, or intellectual – is similarly elusive and thrilling.

The First Tercet: The Limits of Contentment

The first tercet shifts the poem's focus from desire to contentment:

The wild-birds filled the skies with their call, The image of me as a known man, Brake through the mask.

At first glance, this stanza might seem disconnected from what's come before. But Yeats is making an important point here: even when we achieve a sense of contentment, it's always temporary. The image of Yeats as a "known man" (i.e., someone who has found contentment and purpose) is shattered by the "wild-birds" – a reminder that the world is always in flux, always changing.

The use of the word "mask" is also significant. Yeats is suggesting that the persona we present to the world is just that – a facade. Even when we feel content or successful, there's always a part of us that remains hidden, that can never be fully revealed.

The Second Tercet: The Dual Nature of Desire

The second tercet brings the poem full circle, returning to the idea of desire:

All cries are one with the voice of the sea, All ropes are gathered to the girdle of God. When it is peace, then we may view again.

Here, Yeats is suggesting that all desires are connected, that they all stem from the same primal urge. The "voice of the sea" represents the vast, unknowable depths of human desire, while the "girdle of God" represents the divine force that binds us all together.

But what does this mean for contentment? Yeats seems to be suggesting that contentment is not the absence of desire, but rather a temporary reprieve from it. When "it is peace," we can take a step back and view our desires in a new light, but we can never truly escape them.

Conclusion: Are We Ever Truly Content?

"Are You Content?" is a rich, complex poem that explores the dual nature of human desire. Yeats uses powerful imagery and carefully crafted language to take the reader on a journey through the highs and lows of human experience. Through it all, he asks us to consider whether contentment is ever truly attainable, or whether it's just a fleeting illusion.

As readers, we're left with a sense of unease – a feeling that the questions raised in this poem can never truly be answered. But maybe that's the point. Maybe Yeats is suggesting that the journey itself is what matters, that the pursuit of contentment is what gives our lives meaning. And maybe that's a good enough answer for now.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Are You Content? A Classic Poem by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century. His works are known for their deep philosophical themes, intricate symbolism, and lyrical beauty. One of his most famous poems is "Are You Content?" This poem, written in 1899, is a reflection on the nature of happiness and contentment. In this article, we will explore the poem in detail and analyze its meaning and significance.

The poem begins with a question: "Are you content?" This simple question sets the tone for the entire poem. It is a question that we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives. Are we truly happy with our lives? Are we content with what we have? The poem goes on to explore this question in depth.

The first stanza of the poem describes a beautiful scene of nature. Yeats writes, "I call on those that call me son, / Grandson, or great-grandson, / On uncles, aunts, great-uncles or great-aunts, / To judge what I have done." The speaker is calling on his family members to judge his life and his accomplishments. He then goes on to describe the beauty of nature, saying, "I have walked and prayed for this young child / An hour and a half, / Eyesight not faded, nor mind, nor heart, / And now I have finished." The speaker has spent time in nature, and he feels content with what he has accomplished.

The second stanza of the poem takes a darker turn. Yeats writes, "For every tatter in its mortal dress, / Nor is there singing school but studying / Monuments of its own magnificence." The speaker is acknowledging the impermanence of life. Everything in this world is temporary, and even the most beautiful things will eventually fade away. The speaker also mentions the idea of studying monuments of one's own magnificence. This could be interpreted as a warning against becoming too self-absorbed or obsessed with one's own accomplishments.

The third stanza of the poem is perhaps the most famous. Yeats writes, "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." The speaker is acknowledging the fact that as we age, our physical bodies deteriorate. We become like a tattered coat on a stick. However, the speaker also suggests that our souls can still sing, even in old age. We can still find joy and contentment in life, even as our bodies fail us.

The fourth stanza of the poem is a reflection on the nature of happiness. Yeats writes, "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." The speaker is suggesting that true happiness comes not from material possessions or accomplishments, but from the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. He has sailed the seas and come to the holy city of Byzantium, which could be interpreted as a metaphor for the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment.

The final stanza of the poem is a call to action. Yeats writes, "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." The speaker is calling on the sages, or wise men, to help him find true contentment and happiness. He wants them to be the singing-masters of his soul, guiding him towards enlightenment and inner peace.

In conclusion, "Are You Content?" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores the nature of happiness and contentment. Yeats uses vivid imagery and lyrical language to convey his message. The poem encourages us to reflect on our own lives and ask ourselves if we are truly content. It reminds us that true happiness comes not from material possessions or accomplishments, but from the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. The poem is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers today.

Editor Recommended Sites

Cloud Zero Trust Security: Cloud Zero Trust security online courses, tutorials, guides, best practice
GCP Tools: Tooling for GCP / Google Cloud platform, third party githubs that save the most time
Learn Snowflake: Learn the snowflake data warehouse for AWS and GCP, course by an Ex-Google engineer
Notebook Ops: Operations for machine learning and language model notebooks. Gitops, mlops, llmops
Cloud Monitoring - GCP Cloud Monitoring Solutions & Templates and terraform for Cloud Monitoring: Monitor your cloud infrastructure with our helpful guides, tutorials, training and videos

Recommended Similar Analysis

Water, is taught by thirst by Emily Dickinson analysis
Prayer by George Herbert analysis
Song Of The Redwood-Tree by Walt Whitman analysis
Rights of Women, The by Anna Lætitia Barbauld analysis
Wars by Carl Sandburg analysis
Going to Heaven! by Emily Dickinson analysis
Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson analysis
A Bird Came Down by Emily Dickinson analysis
Marriage Morning by Alfred, Lord Tennyson analysis
The Devil In The Belfry by Edgar Allen Poe analysis