'A Prayer On Going Into My House' by William Butler Yeats
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God grant a blessing on this tower and cottage
And on my heirs, if all remain unspoiled,
No table or chair or stool not simple enough
For shepherd lads in Galilee; and grant
That I myself for portions of the year
May handle nothing and set eyes on nothing
But what the great and passionate have used
Throughout so many varying centuries
We take it for the norm; yet should I dream
Sinbad the sailor's brought a painted chest,
Or image, from beyond the Loadstone Mountain,
That dream is a norm; and should some limb of the Devil
Destroy the view by cutting down an ash
That shades the road, or setting up a cottage
Planned in a government office, shorten his life,
Manacle his soul upon the Red Sea bottom.
Editor 1 Interpretation
A Prayer On Going Into My House: A Masterpiece of Yeatsian Poetry
William Butler Yeats is one of the greatest poets in the history of English literature. His works are characterized by their complex symbolism, rich themes, and profound philosophical ideas. Among the many poems that he has written, A Prayer On Going Into My House is arguably one of his finest creations. This masterpiece of Yeatsian poetry is a remarkable fusion of diverse literary devices, including imagery, metaphor, allusion, and allegory. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will delve into the depth and beauty of this remarkable work of art.
Overview of A Prayer On Going Into My House
A Prayer On Going Into My House is a short, four-stanza poem that was first published in 1919. The poem is essentially a prayer, a supplication to the divine powers to grant the speaker protection and blessings as he enters his home. However, the poem is not a simple prayer, but a rich and complex piece of literature that is pregnant with meaning and significance. The speaker of the poem, presumably Yeats himself, is not just asking for physical protection, but for spiritual and intellectual protection as well. He seeks to be shielded from the dangers and temptations of the world, and to be granted the wisdom and insight to navigate the complexities of life.
The poem begins with a vivid and powerful image of the speaker entering his home. He describes his home as a place of safety and refuge, a place where he can escape from the outside world and its tumultuous affairs. However, he is keenly aware that his home is not impervious to the forces of evil and chaos, and he therefore implores the divine powers to protect him and his home from harm. The prayer then moves into a series of metaphors and allusions that are both mysterious and profound. Yeats draws on a range of mythical and mystical symbols, such as the griffin, the sphinx, and the angel, to create a web of meaning that is both elusive and compelling.
Analysis of A Prayer On Going Into My House
The opening lines of the poem set the tone for the rest of the work:
Lord, grant that in the darkness
I may not stumble,
In the shadows
Fall into sin.
These lines immediately establish the theme of the poem, which is the need for protection and guidance in the face of the unknown and the dangerous. The speaker acknowledges his vulnerability, his susceptibility to temptation and wrongdoing, and asks for divine intervention to keep him on the path of righteousness. The imagery of darkness and shadows is a powerful metaphor for the uncertainties and dangers of life, and the speaker's plea for guidance and protection is a universal and timeless human desire.
The second stanza of the poem introduces the griffin, a mythical creature that has the body of a lion and the head of an eagle:
The wild black night is overhead,
And the flying griffin
Will come and go
Like a foam-bead flickering.
The griffin is a symbol of power and courage, and its presence in the poem suggests that the speaker is seeking these qualities for himself. The griffin is also a creature of myth and imagination, and its appearance in the poem adds an element of mystery and magic to the work. The image of the griffin coming and going like a "foam-bead flickering" is both evocative and enigmatic, and adds to the sense of uncertainty and unpredictability that pervades the poem.
The third stanza of the poem introduces the sphinx, another mythical creature:
And from her hidden rock
Will leap into the dark.
The sphinx is a symbol of wisdom and insight, and its appearance in the poem suggests that the speaker is seeking these qualities as well. The sphinx is also a creature of riddles and mysteries, and its presence in the poem adds another layer of complexity to the work. The image of the sphinx leaping into the dark from her hidden rock is both striking and enigmatic, and adds to the sense of danger and uncertainty that the speaker is facing.
The final stanza of the poem introduces the angel, a symbol of divine protection and guidance:
And if the clashing rocks are blind
Unfurl your hands,
That the holy
Angel may take me by the hand.
The image of the "clashing rocks" is a metaphor for the dangers and obstacles that the speaker is facing, and the angel is the symbol of divine intervention that can help him overcome them. The image of the angel taking the speaker by the hand is a powerful and comforting image, suggesting that the speaker is not alone in his struggles, but is being watched over and protected by the divine powers.
Interpretation of A Prayer On Going Into My House
A Prayer On Going Into My House is a complex and multi-layered work of art that can be interpreted in many different ways. At its core, however, the poem is a prayer for protection and guidance in the face of life's uncertainties and dangers. The speaker acknowledges his vulnerability and his need for divine intervention, and asks for the strength and courage to face whatever challenges lie ahead.
The imagery and symbolism in the poem are rich and diverse, drawing on a range of mythical and mystical creatures to create a web of meaning that is both elusive and profound. The griffin, the sphinx, and the angel are all symbols of power, wisdom, and protection, and their appearance in the poem adds to the sense of mystery and magic that pervades the work.
At a deeper level, A Prayer On Going Into My House can be seen as a meditation on the human condition, and the need for spiritual and intellectual growth in the face of life's challenges. The speaker is not just seeking physical protection, but spiritual and intellectual protection as well, asking for the wisdom and insight to navigate the complexities of life. The poem is therefore a call to all of us to seek out the divine within ourselves, and to strive for the courage and wisdom to face whatever challenges lie ahead.
A Prayer On Going Into My House is a remarkable work of art that showcases Yeats's mastery of language, imagery, and symbolism. The poem is a prayer for protection and guidance in the face of life's uncertainties and dangers, and its rich and diverse imagery creates a sense of mystery and magic that is both elusive and profound. At a deeper level, the poem is a meditation on the human condition, and the need for spiritual and intellectual growth in the face of life's challenges. Overall, A Prayer On Going Into My House is a masterpiece of Yeatsian poetry, and a testament to the enduring power and beauty of the poetic form.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
A Prayer On Going Into My House: A Masterpiece of William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet, playwright, and politician, is one of the most celebrated literary figures of the 20th century. His works are known for their profound philosophical themes, mystical imagery, and lyrical beauty. Among his many poems, "A Prayer On Going Into My House" stands out as a masterpiece that captures the essence of Yeats' poetic vision.
The poem was written in 1929, when Yeats was in his mid-sixties, and reflects his deepening sense of mortality and spiritual longing. It is a prayer that expresses his desire for peace, comfort, and security in his home, which he sees as a refuge from the chaos and uncertainty of the world. The poem is composed of four stanzas, each with four lines, and follows a simple ABAB rhyme scheme. However, its simplicity belies its profound meaning and emotional power.
The first stanza sets the tone for the poem by invoking the image of a "great peace" that Yeats seeks to find in his home. He describes his house as a "place of peace" where he can escape from the "stormy world" outside. The use of the word "great" emphasizes the magnitude of the peace he seeks, suggesting that it is not just a temporary respite from the world's troubles but a deeper, more profound sense of calm.
The second stanza expands on this theme by describing the physical features of Yeats' house. He mentions the "low door" and the "wide window" that allow him to see the "red firelight" within. These details create a sense of warmth and intimacy, suggesting that Yeats' home is not just a physical structure but a place of emotional connection and comfort. The image of the firelight also evokes a sense of hearth and home, suggesting that Yeats' house is a place of domesticity and family.
The third stanza shifts the focus from the physical to the spiritual, as Yeats prays for protection from the "evil air" that surrounds him. He asks for the "blessing of the night" to shield him from harm and to bring him "peaceful sleep." This stanza reflects Yeats' belief in the power of the supernatural and his desire for spiritual protection. It also suggests that his home is not just a physical shelter but a spiritual sanctuary.
The final stanza brings the poem to a close by returning to the theme of peace. Yeats prays for the "peace of the simple earth" and for the "peace of the wandering wave." These images evoke a sense of natural harmony and balance, suggesting that Yeats seeks not just personal peace but a larger sense of cosmic order. The final line, "Peace, for the house, for all the world, for everyone," expands this vision to include all of humanity, suggesting that Yeats' prayer is not just for himself but for all of humanity.
Overall, "A Prayer On Going Into My House" is a powerful expression of Yeats' spiritual and emotional longing. It captures the essence of his poetic vision by combining simple language with profound themes. The poem's focus on peace, both personal and cosmic, reflects Yeats' belief in the power of the supernatural and his desire for spiritual protection. Its use of domestic imagery and language creates a sense of warmth and intimacy, suggesting that Yeats' home is not just a physical structure but a place of emotional connection and comfort. In short, "A Prayer On Going Into My House" is a masterpiece of modern poetry that continues to resonate with readers today.
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