'That The Night Come' by William Butler Yeats
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She lived in storm and strife,
Her soul had such desire
For what proud death may bring
That it could not endure
The common good of life,
But lived as 'twere a king
That packed his marriage day
With banneret and pennon,
Trumpet and kettledrum,
And the outrageous cannon,
To bundle time away
That the night come.
Editor 1 Interpretation
That The Night Come: An Analysis of Yeats' Poem
William Butler Yeats was one of the most celebrated Irish poets of the 20th century, and his works are still read and appreciated across the world. One such poem that has stood the test of time is "That The Night Come," which was published in 1925. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will examine the themes, symbols, and literary devices used in the poem, and how they contribute to its overall meaning.
Overview of the Poem
Before we delve deeper into the poem, let us first take a brief look at its structure and content. "That The Night Come" is a sonnet, which means it has fourteen lines and follows a strict rhyme scheme. The poem is divided into two quatrains and a sestet. In the first quatrain, the speaker describes a landscape that is barren and desolate, with no signs of life. In the second quatrain, the speaker addresses someone or something, imploring it to come and bring darkness to the world. In the sestet, the speaker reflects on the transience of life and how everything eventually fades away.
The Theme of Transience
One of the central themes of "That The Night Come" is transience, or the idea that everything in life is temporary and fleeting. The speaker describes a landscape that is "dead," with "no hare" or "bird" to be seen. This image of a lifeless world sets the tone for the rest of the poem, and emphasizes the idea that life is fragile and can be snuffed out at any moment.
This theme of transience is further developed in the sestet, where the speaker laments the fact that everything eventually fades away. He uses the metaphor of "the white moths of the moon" to describe how things in life are beautiful and vibrant in their youth, but eventually become old and frail. This is a powerful image that resonates with readers, as it is a universal experience that everyone can relate to.
The Symbolism of Night
Another important symbol in "That The Night Come" is night. The speaker addresses night directly, imploring it to come and bring darkness to the world. Night is a powerful symbol of change and transformation, as it signifies the end of one day and the beginning of another. In this sense, night represents the cyclical nature of life, and how everything eventually comes to an end.
The symbolism of night is also tied to the idea of death and rebirth. The night is a time of rest and rejuvenation, and this imagery is used to suggest that death is not an end, but rather a beginning of a new cycle of life. This theme is explored further in the sestet, where the speaker reflects on the idea that death is a natural part of life, and that everything eventually comes to an end.
Literary Devices Used in the Poem
Yeats was a master of using literary devices to create powerful imagery and evoke emotion in his readers. One of the most striking literary devices used in "That The Night Come" is personification. The speaker addresses night directly, as if it were a person, and implores it to "come" and "bring" darkness to the world. This personification creates an emotional connection between the reader and the night, as it becomes a tangible presence that can be felt and experienced.
Another important literary device used in the poem is metaphor. The speaker uses the metaphor of "the white moths of the moon" to describe the transience of life. This metaphor is powerful because it creates an image of something beautiful and delicate, but also fleeting and temporary. The use of metaphor in this way is a hallmark of Yeats' poetry, as he often used symbolism to explore complex themes and emotions.
In conclusion, "That The Night Come" is a powerful and moving poem that explores the themes of transience and the cycle of life and death. Through its use of powerful imagery, symbolism, and literary devices, Yeats creates a world that is both beautiful and bleak, and evokes a sense of longing and yearning in the reader. Whether you are a fan of Yeats' poetry, or simply appreciate the power of language to evoke emotions, "That The Night Come" is a poem that is sure to move and inspire.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
That The Night Come: A Poem of Transcendence and Transformation
William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, and his poem "That The Night Come" is a masterpiece of modernist literature. This poem is a meditation on the transformative power of darkness and the possibility of transcendence through surrender to the unknown. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language of the poem, and how they contribute to its overall meaning and impact.
The poem begins with a description of a landscape at dusk, where the "grey sand and the silvery trees" are bathed in the fading light of the sun. The speaker is aware of the impending darkness, and he welcomes it with a sense of anticipation and awe. He sees the night as a "great hooded figure" that comes to "enfold" him and take him on a journey of transformation. The night is not a threat or a source of fear, but a mysterious and powerful force that can lead to enlightenment.
The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a series of images and metaphors that explore the nature of darkness and its relationship to the human psyche. The speaker sees the night as a "great black bird" that "flaps its wings" and "covers" the world with its shadow. This image suggests that the night is a primal and instinctual force that can overpower the rational mind and reveal hidden truths. The bird is also a symbol of freedom and flight, suggesting that the night can liberate the soul from the constraints of everyday life.
The second stanza continues the theme of transformation, as the speaker imagines himself as a "pilgrim" who is "lost" in the darkness. He is not afraid, however, because he knows that the night will guide him to a place of "peace" and "rest." This image of the pilgrim is a common motif in Yeats' poetry, and it represents the spiritual journey of the individual towards enlightenment. The darkness is not a barrier to this journey, but a necessary step towards it.
The third stanza introduces a new image, that of the "great wave" that "breaks" over the speaker. This image suggests a moment of crisis or transformation, where the speaker is overwhelmed by a powerful force that he cannot control. The wave is also a symbol of the unconscious, which can rise up and engulf the conscious mind. The speaker is not afraid of this wave, however, because he knows that it will lead him to a place of "peace" and "calm." This image suggests that the night can bring about a state of surrender and acceptance, where the individual is no longer fighting against the forces of life, but is flowing with them.
The fourth stanza returns to the image of the bird, which is now described as a "great dying moan." This image suggests that the night is not only a force of transformation, but also a force of death and decay. The bird is dying, but its death is not a source of sadness or despair, but a source of wonder and awe. The speaker sees the bird's death as a moment of transcendence, where the physical body is shed and the soul is released into the unknown.
The final stanza brings the poem to a close with a sense of resolution and acceptance. The speaker acknowledges that the night is a "great mystery" that cannot be fully understood or explained. He also acknowledges that the night is a source of fear and uncertainty, but he is willing to embrace it anyway. He sees the night as a "great friend" who will guide him through the darkness and into the light. This image suggests that the night is not an enemy to be fought, but a companion to be embraced.
In conclusion, "That The Night Come" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the transformative power of darkness and the possibility of transcendence through surrender to the unknown. The poem is filled with rich imagery and language that creates a sense of mystery and wonder. The speaker's journey through the darkness is a metaphor for the spiritual journey of the individual towards enlightenment. The night is not a source of fear or despair, but a source of hope and possibility. This poem is a testament to Yeats' mastery of language and his ability to capture the essence of the human experience in a few short lines.
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