'Peace' by William Butler Yeats
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Ah, that Time could touch a form
That could show what Homer's age
Bred to be a hero's wage.
'Were not all her life but storm
Would not painters paint a form
Of such noble lines,' I said,
'Such a delicate high head,
All that sternness amid charm,
All that sweetness amid strength?'
Ah, but peace that comes at length,
Came when Time had touched her form.
Editor 1 Interpretation
A Deep Dive into William Butler Yeats' Peace
William Butler Yeats, one of the most renowned poets of his time, wrote a poem that delves deep into the concept of peace. The poem titled "Peace" has been analyzed, discussed and debated by many scholars over the years. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I'll provide a detailed look at the poem, analyzing it line by line and stanza by stanza.
As we dive into the poem, let's first take a look at some background information about Yeats and the poem itself.
William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1865. He was one of the leading figures of the Irish literary renaissance and a key figure in the Irish nationalist movement. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923 and is considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.
Yeats wrote "Peace" in 1919, shortly after the end of World War I. The poem reflects his desire for peace and his hope for a better future. He was deeply affected by the war and the loss of life it brought about. The poem was published in his collection "The Wild Swans at Coole".
When analyzing a poem, it's important to start at the beginning. The first stanza of "Peace" sets the tone for the rest of the poem:
Peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning To where the cricket sings; There midnight's all a-glimmer, And noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings.
In this stanza, Yeats describes the slow and gradual arrival of peace. He compares it to the morning dew that drops slowly from the sky. The use of the word "veils" suggests that peace is something that is hidden or obscured and needs to be uncovered.
Yeats then paints a picture of a peaceful environment, where the cricket is singing and the different times of day are described. Midnight is described as "all a-glimmer", suggesting a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. Noon is described as having a "purple glow", which could symbolize a sense of calm and serenity. Evening is "full of the linnet's wings", indicating a sense of freedom and lightness.
The second stanza delves deeper into the theme of peace:
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
In this stanza, the speaker (presumably Yeats himself) expresses his desire to escape to Innisfree, a small island off the coast of Ireland. He speaks of building a small cabin there, away from the hustle and bustle of the world. The use of the word "will" suggests that this is something he plans to do in the future, and that it is a concrete goal that he is working towards.
The speaker then describes the simple life he plans to lead on Innisfree, with nine bean-rows and a hive for honey-bees. He wishes to live alone in the bee-loud glade, surrounded by nature and free from the distractions of modern life. The repetition of the word "there" emphasizes the speaker's desire to be in this place, and the simplicity of his desires.
The third stanza shifts focus to the wider world:
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning To where the cricket sings; There midnight's all a-glimmer, And noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings.
In this stanza, the speaker suggests that by escaping to Innisfree, he will find peace. He repeats the description of the peaceful environment from the first stanza, emphasizing the tranquility that he hopes to find. However, there is a sense of uncertainty in the speaker's tone - he only "shall have some peace", not complete peace. This suggests that even in this idyllic location, peace may not be fully attainable.
The fourth and final stanza of the poem brings all of the themes together:
Peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning To where the cricket sings; It comes to make all things whole, It comes to heal the wounds of time.
In this stanza, Yeats reiterates the slow and gradual arrival of peace, echoing the first and third stanzas. However, he adds a new dimension to the concept of peace. Peace is not just an absence of war or conflict, but something that "comes to make all things whole". The use of the word "whole" suggests a sense of completeness and unity.
Yeats then speaks of peace's ability to "heal the wounds of time". This suggests that peace is not just a temporary state, but something that can have a lasting impact. The phrase "wounds of time" implies that peace can help to overcome the scars left by past conflicts and bring about a more harmonious future.
So what is the message of "Peace"? On the surface, the poem is a simple expression of a desire for peace and tranquility. However, it is also a reflection on the wider concept of peace - what it means, how it can be attained, and what its impact can be.
Yeats suggests that peace is not something that can be achieved overnight, but something that comes "dropping slow". It requires patience and persistence, and may never be fully attainable. However, the gradual arrival of peace can bring about a sense of wholeness and healing that can have a lasting impact.
The speaker's desire to escape to Innisfree can be seen as a metaphor for the need to disconnect from the distractions of modern life in order to find peace. The simple life he describes, surrounded by nature and cut off from the outside world, is a representation of the peace he hopes to find.
Overall, "Peace" is a powerful meditation on the concept of peace and its impact on the world. It is a reminder of the importance of striving for peace, and the healing power that it can bring.
In conclusion, William Butler Yeats' "Peace" is a timeless poem that continues to resonate with readers today. Its themes of peace, tranquility, and healing are universal, and its message is as relevant today as it was when it was written over a century ago. Through its simple language and vivid imagery, it encourages us to reflect on the role of peace in our lives, and the world around us.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Peace by William Butler Yeats: A Masterpiece of Poetry
William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century. His works are known for their depth, complexity, and beauty. Among his many poems, Peace stands out as a masterpiece that captures the essence of the human condition and the quest for inner peace. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in Peace to understand its significance and relevance today.
The poem Peace was written in 1919, just after the end of World War I. It was a time of great turmoil and uncertainty, as the world was still reeling from the devastation of the war. Yeats, like many of his contemporaries, was deeply affected by the war and its aftermath. He saw the war as a symbol of the human condition, with its endless cycles of violence and destruction. In Peace, he explores the idea of inner peace as a way to transcend this cycle and find a higher meaning in life.
The poem is structured in three stanzas, each with four lines. The first stanza sets the tone for the poem, with its opening line "Peace comes dropping slow." This line is repeated at the end of each stanza, creating a sense of continuity and repetition. The use of the word "dropping" suggests a gradual, almost imperceptible process, which is in contrast to the suddenness of war and violence. The second line, "Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings," creates a vivid image of peace descending from the sky, like a gentle rain. The use of the word "veils" suggests a mystical, almost spiritual quality to peace, which is reinforced by the image of the cricket singing. The cricket is a symbol of nature and harmony, and its song represents the natural order of things.
The second stanza expands on the theme of nature and its role in bringing peace. Yeats writes, "Peace comes dropping slow, / Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; / There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, / And evening full of the linnet's wings." The use of the word "midnight" suggests a time of darkness and uncertainty, while "noon" represents the height of the day, when the sun is at its brightest. The image of "purple glow" suggests a sense of calm and serenity, while "linnet's wings" represent the freedom and beauty of nature. Together, these images create a sense of harmony and balance, which is essential to finding inner peace.
The third stanza shifts the focus to the human condition and the struggle to find peace within oneself. Yeats writes, "I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, / And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: / Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, / And live alone in the bee-loud glade." The use of the word "Innisfree" suggests a place of peace and tranquility, which is contrasted with the chaos and violence of the world. The image of the "small cabin" and the "bean-rows" represents a simple, self-sufficient life, which is in harmony with nature. The use of the word "bee-loud" suggests a sense of joy and vitality, which is essential to finding inner peace.
The language used in Peace is simple and direct, yet it is also rich in symbolism and imagery. Yeats uses nature as a metaphor for peace, suggesting that it is a natural state of being that can be achieved through harmony and balance. The repetition of the phrase "Peace comes dropping slow" creates a sense of continuity and repetition, which reinforces the idea that peace is a gradual, almost imperceptible process. The use of the word "veils" and "bee-loud" suggests a mystical, almost spiritual quality to peace, which is essential to finding inner peace.
In conclusion, Peace is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the essence of the human condition and the quest for inner peace. Yeats uses nature as a metaphor for peace, suggesting that it is a natural state of being that can be achieved through harmony and balance. The repetition of the phrase "Peace comes dropping slow" creates a sense of continuity and repetition, which reinforces the idea that peace is a gradual, almost imperceptible process. The use of the word "veils" and "bee-loud" suggests a mystical, almost spiritual quality to peace, which is essential to finding inner peace. Peace is a timeless poem that speaks to the human condition and the universal quest for meaning and purpose in life.
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