'The Folly Of Being Comforted' by William Butler Yeats
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One that is ever kind said yesterday:
'Your well-beloved's hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience.'
Heart cries, 'No,
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild Summer was in her gaze.'
Heart! O heart! if she'd but turn her head,
You'd know the folly of being comforted.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Folly Of Being Comforted: A Literary Criticism
Oh, how thrilling it is to explore the depths of William Butler Yeats' work! And today, we shall delve into one of his most captivating poems, "The Folly of Being Comforted." This poem is an exquisite example of Yeats' ability to blend his deep-seated emotions with his profound philosophical views.
"The Folly of Being Comforted" was first published in 1916, during the tumultuous period of World War I. At the time, Yeats was in his early fifties and had already established himself as one of the most renowned poets of his era. This poem is a part of his collection "Responsibilities," which was published in the same year.
Before we dive into analyzing the poem, let us first understand its structure. "The Folly of Being Comforted" comprises four stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The poem follows a strict ABAB rhyme scheme, with the first and third lines having eight syllables, and the second and fourth lines having six syllables.
Now, let us take a closer look at the poem's meaning. "The Folly of Being Comforted" is a reflection on the ephemeral nature of happiness and the futility of seeking solace in it. Yeats opens the poem with a poignant image of two lovers lying in each other's arms, lost in their own world of bliss. However, this moment of happiness is short-lived, as the speaker reminds us of the inevitability of pain and sorrow.
There's one that drags a hidden life Sharing your crime; But when the morning comes with knife Its features blur, or shine.
Here, Yeats uses the metaphor of the morning as a knife that cuts through the veil of happiness, revealing the harsh reality of life. The speaker refers to the hidden life of the lover, suggesting that there is always an element of deception in a romantic relationship.
In the second stanza, Yeats reinforces the idea of the fleeting nature of happiness by juxtaposing it with the enduring nature of pain.
Unwearied still, lover by lover, They paddle in the cold Companionable streams or climb a shore But what they do is old.
The speaker describes the lovers as "unwearied," suggesting that they are still caught up in the moment of happiness. However, this moment is contrasted with the suggestion that the lovers are engaged in an old, repetitive activity.
Yeats further develops this theme in the third stanza, where he uses the imagery of the natural world to illustrate the transience of happiness.
O sweet everlasting Voices, be still; Go to the guards of the heavenly fold And bid them wander obeying your will Flame under flame, till Time be no more;
Here, Yeats personifies the voices of nature, asking them to be still and go to the guards of the heavenly fold. This suggests that the speaker is asking the forces of nature to stop reminding him of the impermanence of happiness. However, the speaker realizes that this is a futile request, as even the forces of nature are subject to the ravages of time.
The final stanza of the poem brings together all the themes that Yeats has developed throughout the poem. The speaker acknowledges the inevitability of pain and sorrow, and the futility of seeking solace in happiness.
And may the dead know what the living say: Bear witness, ere the shadows veil your eyes, That none can ever turn Time's wrist back to play That lovely afternoon again with the dead.
Here, the speaker urges the dead to listen to his words and bear witness to the transience of happiness. He acknowledges that time cannot be turned back, and the lovely afternoon that the lovers shared can never be relived.
"The Folly of Being Comforted" is a poem that is both beautiful and melancholic. It speaks to the human experience of seeking solace in the fleeting moments of happiness, only to be reminded of the pain and sorrow that inevitably follows.
The poem is a reflection on the cyclical nature of life, where happiness and pain are intertwined. Yeats suggests that seeking comfort in happiness is a foolish pursuit, as it is ultimately futile. The inevitability of pain and sorrow is a fact of life that cannot be ignored, and seeking solace in happiness only serves to prolong the inevitable.
In "The Folly of Being Comforted," Yeats also comments on the deceptive nature of romantic love. He suggests that there is always an element of hidden deception in a romantic relationship, and that the happiness that lovers share is ultimately illusory.
The poem's final stanza is particularly poignant, as it acknowledges the transience of happiness and the inevitability of death. Yeats suggests that the dead bear witness to the human experience of seeking solace in happiness, only to be reminded of the pain and sorrow that inevitably follows.
In conclusion, "The Folly of Being Comforted" is a masterpiece of modernist poetry. It is a reflection on the human experience of seeking solace in fleeting moments of happiness, and the futility of this pursuit. Yeats' use of rich imagery and metaphors adds depth and complexity to the poem, making it a poignant commentary on the cyclical nature of life.
As we read this poem, we are reminded of the importance of embracing life's bittersweet moments, and of the inevitability of pain and sorrow. "The Folly of Being Comforted" is a beautiful tribute to the human experience, and a testament to Yeats' skill as a poet.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Folly of Being Comforted: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, is known for his profound and thought-provoking works. His poem "The Folly of Being Comforted" is a masterpiece that explores the complexities of love, loss, and the human condition. In this analysis, we will delve deep into the poem's themes, structure, and literary devices to understand its significance and relevance even today.
The poem begins with the speaker addressing his lover, who has left him for another man. He expresses his pain and sorrow at her departure, saying, "One that is ever kind said yesterday: 'Your well-beloved's hair has threads of grey, And little shadows come about her eyes; Time can but make it easier to be wise Though now it seems impossible, and so All that you need is patience.'"
The speaker's friend tries to console him by saying that time will heal his wounds and make him wiser. However, the speaker is not comforted by these words and instead sees them as a "folly." He believes that the pain of love and loss is an essential part of the human experience and that trying to escape it through comfort is a mistake.
The poem's title, "The Folly of Being Comforted," is a reflection of the speaker's belief that seeking comfort in the face of pain is a foolish act. He believes that the pain of love and loss is necessary for personal growth and that trying to avoid it only leads to stagnation. The speaker's rejection of comfort is a rejection of the easy way out and a call to embrace the challenges of life.
The poem's structure is also significant in conveying its message. It is written in three stanzas, each with a different rhyme scheme. The first stanza has an ABAB rhyme scheme, the second has an AABB rhyme scheme, and the third has an ABCCB rhyme scheme. This structure creates a sense of progression and development, with each stanza building on the previous one.
The first stanza sets the scene and introduces the speaker's pain and sorrow. The second stanza introduces the idea of comfort and the speaker's rejection of it. The third stanza brings the poem to a close by emphasizing the importance of pain and the folly of seeking comfort.
The poem's use of literary devices is also noteworthy. The speaker's use of imagery, such as "threads of grey" and "little shadows," creates a vivid picture of his lover's aging and the toll that time has taken on her. This imagery emphasizes the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of change.
The poem's use of repetition is also significant. The phrase "the folly of being comforted" is repeated throughout the poem, emphasizing the speaker's rejection of comfort and his belief in the importance of pain. This repetition creates a sense of urgency and emphasizes the poem's central message.
The poem's use of irony is also noteworthy. The speaker's rejection of comfort is ironic because comfort is often seen as a positive thing. However, the speaker believes that seeking comfort in the face of pain is a mistake and that the pain of love and loss is necessary for personal growth.
In conclusion, "The Folly of Being Comforted" is a masterpiece by William Butler Yeats that explores the complexities of love, loss, and the human condition. The poem's structure, use of literary devices, and central message all work together to create a powerful and thought-provoking work of art. The speaker's rejection of comfort is a call to embrace the challenges of life and to recognize the importance of pain in personal growth. Even today, this poem remains relevant and significant, reminding us of the folly of seeking comfort in the face of pain.
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