'Chosen' by William Butler Yeats
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The lot of love is chosen. I learnt that much
Struggling for an image on the track
Of the whirling Zodiac.
Scarce did he my body touch,
Scarce sank he from the west
Or found a subtetranean rest
On the maternal midnight of my breast
Before I had marked him on his northern way,
And seemed to stand although in bed I lay.
I struggled with the horror of daybreak,
I chose it for my lot! If questioned on
My utmost pleasure with a man
By some new-married bride, I take
That stillness for a theme
Where his heart my heart did seem
And both adrift on the miraculous stream
Where -- wrote a learned astrologer --
The Zodiac is changed into a sphere.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Chosen by William Butler Yeats: A Critical Analysis
Have you ever read a poem that felt like it was speaking directly to your soul? That's how I felt when I first read "Chosen" by William Butler Yeats. This poem is a beautiful, haunting meditation on love, loss, and the passing of time. In this literary criticism, I will analyze "Chosen" in detail, exploring Yeats' use of language, symbolism, and structure to create a work of art that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant.
Before diving into the poem itself, let's take a moment to consider the context in which it was written. "Chosen" was first published in Yeats' 1919 collection, The Wild Swans at Coole. This was a time of great turbulence in the world, with World War I having just ended and the Irish War of Independence raging on. Yeats himself was deeply involved in the politics of his time, serving as a senator in the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1928. Against this backdrop of violence, uncertainty, and change, "Chosen" emerges as a poignant meditation on the transience of human life and the enduring power of love.
One of the first things that strikes me about "Chosen" is the beauty of Yeats' language. His use of words is both precise and evocative, creating a vivid sensory experience for the reader. Consider the opening lines:
The lot of love is chosen. I learnt that much Struggling for an image on the track Of the whirling Zodiac.
Here, Yeats uses the word "lot" to convey the idea that love is something that is predetermined, something that we have no control over. The use of the word "whirling" to describe the Zodiac emphasizes the idea of chaos and unpredictability. Through his language, Yeats is able to convey complex ideas in a way that is both beautiful and accessible.
Another example of Yeats' mastery of language can be found in the following stanza:
Slowly the night is covering over Our love, ... And the dark hush blots out The careful words and the laughter, The farewells and the talk;
Here, Yeats uses the word "blots" to describe the way in which darkness seems to erase all of the joyful moments that the lovers have shared. The use of the phrase "dark hush" also contributes to the sense of foreboding that permeates the poem. Yeats' language is not only beautiful, but also serves to convey the themes and emotions of the poem in a powerful way.
Another aspect of "Chosen" that I find particularly intriguing is its use of symbolism. The poem is filled with images and metaphors that contribute to its overall meaning. One of the most striking examples of this can be found in the following lines:
I bring you with reverent hands The books of my numberless dreams, White woman that passion has worn As the tide wears the dove-grey sands,
Here, Yeats uses the color white to symbolize purity and innocence, while the image of sand being worn away by the tide emphasizes the transience of human life. The use of the word "passion" to describe the woman also contributes to the sense of urgency and intensity that permeates the poem.
Another example of Yeats' use of symbolism can be found in the following stanza:
I am content to follow to its source Every event in action or in thought; Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot! When such as I cast out remorse So great a sweetness flows into the breast We must laugh and we must sing,
Here, Yeats uses the metaphor of a river to describe the passage of time. The idea of "following to its source" emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, while the use of the word "forgive" suggests that Yeats is grappling with the idea of mortality and the inevitability of death. The final lines, with their emphasis on laughter and song, suggest that even in the face of death, there is still something beautiful and joyful to be found in life.
Finally, I want to consider the structure of "Chosen". The poem is composed of seven stanzas, each with six lines. The use of this specific form helps to create a sense of symmetry and balance in the poem. Additionally, the repetition of certain phrases, such as "The lot of love is chosen" and "I bring you with reverent hands", helps to create a sense of unity and coherence in the poem.
One particularly striking aspect of the poem's structure is the way in which it builds to a climax in the final stanza. Consider the following lines:
And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout.
Here, Yeats uses the image of a white moth to symbolize purity and innocence, while the silver trout represents something precious and fleeting. The final lines, with their emphasis on the act of catching the fish, suggest that even in the face of death, there is still something to be cherished and celebrated.
In conclusion, "Chosen" by William Butler Yeats is a beautiful and haunting poem that explores the themes of love, loss, and mortality. Through his masterful use of language, symbolism, and structure, Yeats is able to create a work of art that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant. Whether we are grappling with the uncertainty of our own lives or simply seeking a moment of beauty and solace, "Chosen" has something to offer us all.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Chosen: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet, playwright, and politician, is widely regarded as one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century. His works are known for their deep symbolism, mysticism, and lyrical beauty. Among his many masterpieces, the poem "Chosen" stands out as a powerful and enigmatic piece that explores the themes of love, destiny, and the human condition. In this article, we will delve into the meaning and significance of this classic poem and uncover the hidden layers of its symbolism and imagery.
The poem "Chosen" was written by Yeats in 1899 and was first published in his collection "The Wind Among the Reeds" in 1899. It is a short but powerful poem that consists of four stanzas, each containing four lines. The poem is written in a simple and direct style, but its meaning is far from straightforward. At first glance, the poem appears to be a love poem, but upon closer inspection, it reveals a deeper and more complex message.
The poem begins with the lines:
"The lot of love is chosen. I learnt that much Struggling for an image on the track Of the whirling Zodiac."
These lines set the tone for the rest of the poem and introduce the central theme of love. The speaker acknowledges that love is a chosen fate, something that is predetermined and beyond our control. The phrase "the lot of love" suggests that love is something that is assigned to us by fate or destiny, rather than something we choose for ourselves. The speaker then describes his struggle to find an image on the track of the whirling Zodiac, which is a reference to the ancient Greek concept of the zodiac, which represents the twelve signs of the astrological calendar. This image suggests that the speaker is searching for a deeper meaning or purpose in life, something that is beyond the mundane and materialistic.
The second stanza of the poem continues the theme of destiny and fate:
"The images that bloom Mind's proud eye may pluck them, or reject, Leaves of their own time's book, Love's bitter mystery."
Here, the speaker suggests that the images that bloom in our minds are subject to our own interpretation and judgment. We can choose to pluck them or reject them, but ultimately, they are part of the book of our own time, which is a reference to the idea that our lives are predetermined by fate or destiny. The phrase "love's bitter mystery" suggests that love is a complex and enigmatic force that is beyond our understanding, and that its true nature is something that we can never fully comprehend.
The third stanza of the poem introduces the image of the "chosen people":
"Love's hidden mystery, In hair as in the boughs, Where, where? In the quick heart's shuddering blaze Or in the slain on the hills?"
Here, the speaker suggests that love's hidden mystery can be found in the hair and boughs, which are both symbols of growth and vitality. The question "where, where?" suggests that the speaker is searching for the true nature of love, and that it can be found either in the quick heart's shuddering blaze, which is a reference to the intense passion of love, or in the slain on the hills, which is a reference to the sacrifice and suffering that love often entails. The phrase "the chosen people" suggests that love is something that is reserved for a select few, those who are destined to experience its power and mystery.
The final stanza of the poem brings the themes of love, destiny, and sacrifice together:
"God save us mere humans Some such a destiny, Not man's or woman's but God's, A chosen destiny."
Here, the speaker acknowledges the limitations of human understanding and the need for divine intervention. The phrase "God save us mere humans" suggests that we are powerless in the face of fate and that we need God's help to navigate the mysteries of love and destiny. The phrase "a chosen destiny" suggests that love is not something that we choose for ourselves, but rather something that is chosen for us by a higher power.
In conclusion, the poem "Chosen" by William Butler Yeats is a powerful and enigmatic piece that explores the themes of love, destiny, and the human condition. Through its use of symbolism and imagery, the poem suggests that love is a predetermined fate that is beyond our control, and that its true nature is something that we can never fully comprehend. The poem's final message is one of humility and acceptance, acknowledging the limitations of human understanding and the need for divine intervention. "Chosen" is a masterpiece of modern poetry, and its message is as relevant today as it was when it was first written over a century ago.
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