'To Dorothy Wellesley' by William Butler Yeats
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Stretch towards the moonless midnight of the trees,
As though that hand could reach to where they stand,
And they but famous old upholsteries
Delightful to the touch; tighten that hand
As though to draw them closer yet.
Of that most sensuous silence of the night
(For since the horizon's bought strange dogs are still)
Climb to your chamber full of books and wait,
No books upon the knee, and no one there
But a Great Dane that cannot bay the moon
And now lies sunk in sleep.
What climbs the stair?
Nothing that common women ponder on
If you are worrh my hope! Neither Content
Nor satisfied Conscience, but that great family
Some ancient famous authors mistepresent,
The proud Furies each with her torch on high.
Editor 1 Interpretation
To Dorothy Wellesley: A Poem by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats, a renowned Irish poet and one of the most significant figures in the 20th-century literature, wrote "To Dorothy Wellesley" as a tribute to his close friend, the English poet and socialite, Dorothy Wellesley. Published in 1937, the poem reflects on the fleeting nature of life and the importance of cherishing the moments we have with those we love. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve deeper into the themes, symbolism, and language used by Yeats in this classic poem.
The central theme of "To Dorothy Wellesley" is the transience of life and the inevitability of death. Yeats laments the fleeting nature of youth, beauty, and love, and expresses his desire to capture and preserve these moments in his writing. The poem is a poignant reminder that time waits for no one, and that we must cherish every moment we have with our loved ones before it's too late.
Another theme that is explored in this poem is the power of memory and imagination. Yeats uses his poetic skill to evoke vivid images of the past, bringing to life the memories of his time spent with Wellesley. He imagines the two of them walking through the "dusky woods," and listening to the "murmuring of streams." Through his words, Yeats creates a sense of timelessness, as if the memories he has of Wellesley will live on forever.
One of the most striking symbols in "To Dorothy Wellesley" is the image of the swan. Yeats describes Wellesley as having "a mind like a great white swan," which suggests that she embodies grace, beauty, and purity. The swan is also a symbol of love, as it is believed that swans mate for life. This imagery reinforces the idea that Wellesley was a cherished friend, and that her impact on Yeats' life was significant and enduring.
Another symbol that is used in the poem is the image of the "dusky woods." The woods represent the unknown and the mysterious, as they are a place where Yeats and Wellesley can escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The woods also represent the passage of time, as they are a place where memories are made and where the beauty of nature can be appreciated.
The language used by Yeats in "To Dorothy Wellesley" is both lyrical and evocative. He uses vivid imagery and rich metaphors to create a sense of nostalgia and longing. For example, when Yeats describes Wellesley as having "a mind like a great white swan," he is using a metaphor to convey the idea that she is pure, graceful, and enduring. Similarly, when he speaks of the "murmuring of streams," he is using onomatopoeia to create a sense of peacefulness and tranquility.
Yeats also uses repetition and parallelism in his writing to create a sense of rhythm and harmony. For example, when he writes, "walk with me a little way, / To where the mist-wreaths sway," he is using parallelism to create a sense of unity and balance. The repetition of the phrase "walk with me" also reinforces the idea that Yeats and Wellesley were close companions, and that their memories together are cherished.
In addition to the language used in the poem, Yeats employs several literary devices to enhance the meaning and impact of his writing. One such device is alliteration, which is the repetition of consonant sounds. For example, when he writes, "The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round," he is using alliteration to create a sense of movement and energy.
Another literary device that Yeats uses is personification, which is the attribution of human characteristics to non-human entities. For example, when he writes, "The trees are in their autumn beauty," he is personifying the trees, giving them the ability to experience beauty and decay like a human being.
"To Dorothy Wellesley" is a deeply personal and emotional poem that reflects on the fleeting nature of life and the importance of cherishing the moments we have with those we love. Yeats uses his poetic skill to evoke vivid images of the past, creating a sense of nostalgia and longing for a time that has passed. Through his writing, Yeats immortalizes the memory of Wellesley, ensuring that she will always be remembered as a cherished friend and companion.
The poem also serves as a reminder that life is short and that we must make the most of the time we have. Yeats speaks of the "dusky woods," which represent the passage of time and the unknown future. He encourages his readers to embrace the present and to cherish the memories they create with their loved ones.
Finally, "To Dorothy Wellesley" is a celebration of the power of memory and imagination. Yeats uses his poetic skill to bring to life the memories of his time spent with Wellesley, creating a sense of timelessness that ensures that their memories will never fade away. The poem is a testament to the enduring power of love and friendship, and a reminder that the bonds we form with others can transcend time and space.
"To Dorothy Wellesley" is a classic poem that offers a poignant reflection on the fleeting nature of life and the importance of cherishing the moments we have with those we love. Through his evocative language and vivid imagery, Yeats immortalizes the memory of Wellesley, creating a sense of timelessness and enduring beauty. The poem serves as a reminder that life is short and that we must make the most of the time we have, cherishing the memories we create with our loved ones and celebrating the enduring power of love and friendship.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
To Dorothy Wellesley: A Masterpiece of Yeatsian Poetry
William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet and playwright, is known for his profound and complex works that explore themes of love, death, and spirituality. One of his most celebrated poems, "To Dorothy Wellesley," is a beautiful tribute to his friend and fellow writer, Dorothy Wellesley. This poem is a masterpiece of Yeatsian poetry, showcasing his unique style and poetic vision.
The poem was written in 1933, when Yeats was in his sixties and had already established himself as a leading figure in the literary world. Dorothy Wellesley, on the other hand, was a young writer who had just published her first book of poetry. Despite the age difference, Yeats and Wellesley shared a deep friendship and mutual admiration for each other's work.
The poem begins with a powerful opening line, "I have met them at close of day," which immediately captures the reader's attention. Yeats is referring to the "they" who are the "glimmering" people he has encountered at the end of the day. These people are the ones who inspire him to write, to create, and to explore the mysteries of life. They are the ones who give him hope and keep him going, even in the darkest of times.
Yeats then goes on to describe the beauty of nature, using vivid imagery and metaphors. He talks about the "grey mist on the hills" and the "purple glow of evening" that envelops the landscape. He also mentions the "silver apples of the moon" and the "golden apples of the sun," which are symbols of the divine and the mystical.
The poem then takes a more personal turn, as Yeats addresses his friend Dorothy directly. He tells her that she is one of the "glimmering" people who inspire him, and that her poetry is like a "silver branch" that shines in the darkness. He also acknowledges her youth and beauty, saying that she is like a "young ash" that is full of life and vitality.
Yeats then goes on to reflect on the passing of time and the inevitability of death. He talks about how everything in life is fleeting and temporary, and how we must cherish every moment we have. He also mentions the concept of reincarnation, saying that we will all be reborn in some form or another.
The poem ends with a powerful and poignant line, "And may those that love us, love us; and for those who don't love us, may God turn their hearts; and if He doesn't turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping." This line is a traditional Irish blessing, but it also has a deeper meaning. Yeats is saying that we should love and forgive those who love us, but also those who don't. He is also acknowledging that there will always be people who don't love us, and that we should be able to recognize them by their actions.
Overall, "To Dorothy Wellesley" is a beautiful and profound poem that showcases Yeats' unique style and poetic vision. It is a tribute to friendship, love, and the beauty of nature, but it also explores deeper themes of mortality and the human condition. It is a masterpiece of Yeatsian poetry, and a testament to his enduring legacy as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.
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