'Blood And The Moon' by William Butler Yeats

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Blessed be this place,
More blessed still this tower;
A bloody, arrogant power
Rose out of the race
Uttering, mastering it,
Rose like these walls from these
Storm-beaten cottages -
In mockery I have set
A powerful emblem up,
And sing it rhyme upon rhyme
In mockery of a time
Half dead at the top.


Alexandria's was a beacon tower, and Babylon's
An image of the moving heavens, a log-book of the sun's journey and the moon's;
And Shelley had his towers, thought's crowned powers he called them once.

I declare this tower is my symbol; I declare
This winding, gyring, spiring treadmill of a stair is my ancestral stair;
That Goldsmith and the Dean, Berkeley and Burke have travelled there.

Swift beating on his breast in sibylline frenzy blind
Because the heart in his blood-sodden breast had dragged him down into mankind,
Goldsmith deliberately sipping at the honey-pot of his mind,

And haughtier-headed Burke that proved the State a tree,
That this unconquerable labyrinth of the birds, century after century,
Cast but dead leaves to mathematical equality;

And God-appointed Berkeley that proved all things a dream,
That this pragmatical, preposterous pig of a world, its farrow that so solid seem,
Must vanish on the instant if the mind but change its theme;

Saeva Indignatio and the labourer's hire,
The strength that gives our blood and state magnanimity of its own desire;
Everything that is not God consumed with intellectual fire.


The purity of the unclouded moon
Has flung its atrowy shaft upon the floor.
Seven centuries have passed and it is pure,
The blood of innocence has left no stain.
There, on blood-saturated ground, have stood
Soldier, assassin, executioner.
Whether for daily pittance or in blind fear
Or out of abstract hatred, and shed blood,
But could not cast a single jet thereon.
Odour of blood on the ancestral stair!
And we that have shed none must gather there
And clamour in drunken frenzy for the moon.


Upon the dusty, glittering windows cling,
And seem to cling upon the moonlit skies,
Tortoiseshell butterflies, peacock butterflies,
A couple of night-moths are on the wing.
Is every modern nation like the tower,
Half dead at the top? No matter what I said,
For wisdom is the property of the dead,
A something incompatible with life; and power,
Like everything that has the stain of blood,
A property of the living; but no stain
Can come upon the visage of the moon
When it has looked in glory from a cloud.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Blood And The Moon: A Deep Dive into William Butler Yeats' Classic Poem

If you're a fan of poetry, chances are that you've heard of William Butler Yeats. One of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, Yeats was a master of both style and substance, crafting works that were both beautiful and profound.

One such work is his classic poem, Blood And The Moon. This powerful piece of literature explores themes of violence, mythology, and the struggle between the old world and the new. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll delve into the deeper meaning of Blood And The Moon, examining its language, structure, and symbolism.

Historical and Mythological Context

Before we dive in, it's important to understand the historical and mythological context that influenced Yeats' writing. At the time he wrote Blood And The Moon, Yeats was living in Ireland, a country that had long been torn apart by political and cultural conflict. The poem was written during the Irish War of Independence, a time of great violence and upheaval.

It's also worth noting that Yeats was deeply interested in Irish mythology and folklore, and many of his works draw on these themes. Blood And The Moon is no exception; the poem is filled with references to ancient Irish myths and legends, and explores the tension between the old, mystical world and the modern, rational one.

Structure and Language

Blood And The Moon is a complex and multi-layered poem, with a structure that reflects its themes. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each of which contains four lines. The first and third lines of each stanza rhyme, as do the second and fourth.

The language of the poem is rich and evocative, filled with vivid images and powerful metaphors. Yeats uses language in a way that is both beautiful and unsettling, creating a sense of tension and unease that runs throughout the poem.

Interpretation and Analysis

So what does Blood And The Moon actually mean? Let's take a closer look at the poem, stanza by stanza, to explore its deeper themes and symbolism.

Stanza One

In the first stanza, Yeats sets the stage for the poem's themes of violence and conflict. The opening line, "blessed rage for order," suggests a sense of anger and frustration, while the reference to "the towering dead" invokes the idea of the past casting a long shadow over the present.

The second line, "turbid with anger and hate," continues this theme of conflict, while the third line, "tossed on the horns of the moon," introduces the idea of celestial bodies as symbols of power and influence.

Finally, the fourth line, "whose blood is clotting in my veins," suggests a sense of personal connection to the violence and conflict being described. The use of the word "clotting" is particularly powerful, evoking an image of something stagnant and festering.

Stanza Two

The second stanza introduces the poem's mythological themes, with references to the ancient Irish deities Lugh and Crom Cruach. The opening line, "drunken with singing," suggests a sense of abandon and revelry, while the reference to "the god in the road" invokes the idea of divine intervention and influence.

The second line, "whose shrine is overturned," suggests a sense of desecration and disrespect, while the reference to "the owl on the battlements" introduces the idea of the supernatural as a symbol of mystery and danger.

The third line, "who saw the second coming of Christ," is a reference to Yeats' belief in the cyclical nature of history, and the idea that history repeats itself. Finally, the fourth line, "who holds the world between his feathered fingers," suggests a sense of power and control.

Stanza Three

The third stanza returns to the theme of conflict, with references to ancient battles and the idea of bloodshed as a symbol of power. The opening line, "that woman is the fountain of tears," suggests a sense of sadness and loss, while the reference to "the old hag driven away in the bright chariot" introduces the idea of the old world being displaced by the new.

The second line, "starred with the steel of veteran spears," is a reference to the weapons of ancient warriors, while the third line, "blood in the streets," suggests a sense of violence and chaos.

Finally, the fourth line, "and the body scarred with the beatings of clubs," is a powerful image of physical brutality, and suggests a sense of helplessness in the face of violence and oppression.

Stanza Four

The final stanza of the poem returns to the theme of mythology, with references to the ancient Irish goddesses Brigid and Aengus. The opening line, "what is the crying at my heart," suggests a sense of emotional pain and turmoil, while the reference to "the moon-begotten maid" suggests a connection to the supernatural.

The second line, "who binds with flowing windy hair," suggests a sense of freedom and wildness, while the third line, "all the wild witchery of the shore," introduces the idea of the natural world as a powerful and mystical force.

Finally, the fourth line, "and all the beauty of the moonlit air," suggests a sense of wonder and awe, and serves as a contrast to the violence and conflict described earlier in the poem.


Blood And The Moon is a powerful and evocative poem that explores themes of violence, conflict, and the struggle between the old world and the new. Through its complex structure and rich language, Yeats creates a sense of tension and unease that runs throughout the poem, drawing the reader into a world of ancient myths and legends.

By examining the poem stanza by stanza, we can see how Yeats weaves together themes of mythology, history, and human emotion to create a work that is both beautiful and profound. Whether you're a fan of poetry or just looking to explore the deeper meaning of a classic work of literature, Blood And The Moon is a poem that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Blood And The Moon: A Poetic Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century. His works are known for their depth, complexity, and symbolism. One of his most famous poems is "Blood And The Moon," which was published in 1928. This poem is a masterpiece of modernist poetry, and it explores themes of violence, history, and the cyclical nature of life.

The poem begins with an image of a "bloody moon" rising over the "troubled" city. This image sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is filled with violent and disturbing imagery. The moon is a symbol of change and transformation, and in this poem, it represents the cyclical nature of history. The "blood" on the moon suggests that violence and conflict are an inevitable part of this cycle.

The second stanza of the poem describes the "dancing" of the "young men" in the streets. This image is juxtaposed with the image of the "old men" who are "crying" in their homes. The contrast between the young and the old suggests a generational divide, and the fact that the young men are "dancing" while the old men are "crying" suggests that the young are more optimistic about the future, while the old are more pessimistic.

The third stanza of the poem describes the "ghosts" of the past who are "whispering" in the ears of the young men. This image suggests that the past is always present, and that history is constantly repeating itself. The fact that the ghosts are "whispering" suggests that their influence is subtle, but powerful.

The fourth stanza of the poem describes the "bitter" and "bloody" history of the city. This history is described as a "river" that is "flowing" through the streets. This image suggests that history is a force that cannot be stopped, and that it is constantly shaping the present.

The fifth stanza of the poem describes the "drunken" and "dancing" women who are "laughing" in the streets. This image is juxtaposed with the image of the "old men" who are "crying" in their homes. The contrast between the women and the old men suggests that women are more optimistic about the future, while the old men are more pessimistic.

The sixth stanza of the poem describes the "savage" and "bloody" history of the city. This history is described as a "beast" that is "roaming" through the streets. This image suggests that violence and conflict are an inherent part of human nature, and that they are constantly threatening to erupt.

The seventh stanza of the poem describes the "dying" and "dead" who are "lying" in the streets. This image suggests that violence and conflict have real consequences, and that they often result in death and destruction.

The final stanza of the poem describes the "bloody moon" setting over the "troubled" city. This image brings the poem full circle, and suggests that the cycle of violence and conflict will continue indefinitely.

Overall, "Blood And The Moon" is a powerful and haunting poem that explores the cyclical nature of history and the inevitability of violence and conflict. Yeats uses vivid and disturbing imagery to convey his message, and the result is a poem that is both beautiful and terrifying.

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