'Remorse For Intemperate Speech' by William Butler Yeats
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I ranted to the knave and fool,
But outgrew that school,
Would transform the part,
Fit audience found, but cannot rule
My fanatic heart.
I sought my betters: though in each
Fine manners, liberal speech,
Turn hatred into sport,
Nothing said or done can reach
My fanatic heart.
Out of Ireland have we come.
Great hatred, little room,
Maimed us at the start.
I carry from my mother's womb
A fanatic heart.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Remorse for Intemperate Speech: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
William Butler Yeats, one of the most prolific poets of the 20th century, wrote Remorse for Intemperate Speech in the early 20th century. This poem is a reflection on the speaker's remorse for the words they have spoken in the past, and the damage that has been done as a result. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will analyze the themes, structure, and language of the poem to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.
The main theme of the poem is remorse, as the title suggests. The speaker expresses deep regret for the "intemperate speech" that they have engaged in, recognizing the harm it has caused to others. This theme of remorse is closely linked to the theme of responsibility, as the speaker takes ownership of their actions and acknowledges the damage that they have caused.
Another theme present in the poem is the power of words. The speaker reflects on the impact of their words, recognizing their ability to cause harm and to create lasting effects. This theme is particularly relevant in today's society, where online communication has made it easier than ever to speak impulsively and without thought for the consequences of our words.
Finally, the theme of time is also present in the poem. The speaker reflects on the past and the actions they have taken, recognizing that time cannot be undone and that the damage that has been done cannot be erased. This is a powerful reminder of the importance of living in the present and being mindful of our words and actions.
Remorse for Intemperate Speech is a sonnet, a 14-line poem with a specific rhyme scheme and meter. The poem follows the traditional structure of a sonnet, with an octave (8 lines) followed by a sestet (6 lines). The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, and the meter is iambic pentameter, with each line consisting of 10 syllables and a pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables.
The structure of the poem is reflective of its themes, particularly the theme of time. The sonnet form is traditionally associated with love poetry, but in this context, it is used to reflect on the past and the damage that has been done. The structure also creates a sense of tension, as the speaker moves from reflection to action in the sestet, resolving to be more mindful of their words in the future.
The language of Remorse for Intemperate Speech is rich and evocative, with a focus on sensory detail and emotional depth. Yeats uses a variety of poetic techniques to create a sense of the speaker's remorse and the impact of their words.
One of the most striking aspects of the language is the use of repetition, particularly in the first quatrain. The repetition of "I" and "I said" emphasizes the speaker's personal responsibility for their words, while the repetition of "remorse" creates a sense of the speaker's overwhelming regret. The repetition of "said" in line 4 also creates a sense of the speaker's self-reproach, highlighting the damage that has been done.
Yeats also uses metaphor and imagery to create a sense of the power of words. The metaphor of the "wind that blows through my heart" creates a sense of the speaker's emotions being stirred up by their words, while the imagery of "ruined towers" and "broken arches" emphasizes the lasting damage that has been done.
Another notable aspect of the language is the use of rhetorical questions, particularly in the sestet. The question "O what had I more?" creates a sense of the speaker's self-reflection and recognition of the emptiness of their words. The question "What could I have said?" emphasizes the speaker's recognition of their power to choose their words and the importance of using that power responsibly.
Remorse for Intemperate Speech is a powerful reflection on the impact of our words and the importance of taking responsibility for them. The poem emphasizes the lasting damage that can be done by careless or thoughtless speech, and the importance of being mindful of the power of our words.
The poem also serves as a reminder of the importance of self-reflection and self-awareness. The speaker recognizes their own failings and takes ownership of their mistakes, moving from remorse to a resolution to be more mindful of their words in the future. This is a powerful reminder of the importance of taking responsibility for our own actions and recognizing the role that we play in shaping our own lives and the lives of those around us.
Overall, Remorse for Intemperate Speech is a timeless reminder of the power of our words and the importance of using that power responsibly. Its themes of remorse, responsibility, and timelessness are as relevant today as they were when Yeats wrote the poem over a century ago, and its message will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Remorse For Intemperate Speech: A Poem of Contrition and Redemption
William Butler Yeats, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, wrote a poem that speaks to the human experience of regret and the desire for redemption. "Remorse For Intemperate Speech" is a powerful and evocative work that explores the consequences of careless words and the need to make amends for past mistakes.
The poem begins with a confession of guilt and a plea for forgiveness. The speaker acknowledges that he has spoken rashly and without thought, causing harm to others and to himself. He expresses his regret for the hurt he has caused and his desire to make things right:
"O, what to me the little room That was brimmed up with prayer and rest; He bade me out into the gloom, And my breast lies upon his breast."
The imagery here is striking and poignant. The "little room" represents a place of safety and comfort, perhaps a sanctuary or a place of worship. The speaker has been cast out of this space, forced to confront the darkness and uncertainty of the world outside. He is alone and vulnerable, with only his remorse and his desire for redemption to guide him.
The reference to the "breast" is also significant. It suggests a sense of intimacy and connection, perhaps even a sense of shared responsibility. The speaker is acknowledging that his words have caused harm not only to others but also to himself. He is willing to bear the weight of his guilt and to seek forgiveness for his actions.
The second stanza of the poem continues this theme of regret and contrition. The speaker reflects on the damage that his words have caused and the pain that he has inflicted on others:
"I have not peace enough to pray, I have not charity enough to bear The insistent beggar's voice away From my shut door, the running sore To ease and heal it if I may."
Here, the speaker is acknowledging his own limitations and his inability to make amends for his past mistakes. He is struggling to find peace and to move beyond his guilt, but he knows that he must try. He is also aware of the suffering of others and the need to show compassion and kindness, even to those who have wronged him.
The reference to the "insistent beggar's voice" is particularly poignant. It suggests a sense of desperation and need, a cry for help that cannot be ignored. The speaker is acknowledging that he has turned away from those in need, perhaps because of his own guilt and shame. He is now seeking to make amends and to offer help and healing to those who have been hurt by his words.
The final stanza of the poem is a powerful statement of redemption and renewal. The speaker acknowledges his past mistakes and his desire to make amends, but he also recognizes the possibility of forgiveness and the hope of a better future:
"I have enough to cover me, From my own head unto my feet; My sin is extremity, Hail! Mary, full of grace."
The reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus, is significant. It suggests a sense of divine intervention and the possibility of forgiveness and redemption. The speaker is acknowledging his own sinfulness and his need for grace and mercy. He is also expressing his faith in the power of forgiveness and the hope of a better future.
Overall, "Remorse For Intemperate Speech" is a powerful and evocative poem that speaks to the human experience of regret and the desire for redemption. It is a work of great depth and complexity, exploring themes of guilt, shame, compassion, and forgiveness. Through its vivid imagery and powerful language, it offers a message of hope and renewal, reminding us that even in our darkest moments, there is always the possibility of redemption and the hope of a better future.
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