'Crazy Jane On God' by William Butler Yeats

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That lover of a night
Came when he would,
Went in the dawning light
Whether I would or no;
Men come, men go;
All things remain in God.

Banners choke the sky;
Men-at-arms tread;
Armoured horses neigh
In the narrow pass:
All things remain in God.

Before their eyes a house
That from childhood stood
Uninhabited, ruinous,
Suddenly lit up
From door to top:
All things remain in God.

I had wild Jack for a lover;
Though like a road
That men pass over
My body makes no moan
But sings on:
All things remain in God.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Crazy Jane On God by William Butler Yeats: A Deep Dive into the Complexities of Faith and Madness

To call William Butler Yeats' poetry complex would be an understatement. The Irish poet, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923, wrote about a wide range of themes, from politics to mythology to spirituality. And perhaps no poem exemplifies his mastery of these themes better than "Crazy Jane On God."

At first glance, the poem seems simple enough. It consists of four stanzas, each containing four lines. The speaker, Crazy Jane, is addressing God directly, questioning the nature of faith and the role of suffering in human existence. But as we delve deeper into the poem, we begin to see the many layers of meaning that Yeats has woven into his words.

The Madness of Faith

One of the most striking things about "Crazy Jane On God" is the persona Yeats has chosen for his speaker. Crazy Jane is a legendary figure in Irish folklore, a woman who was said to be both a prostitute and a mystic. Yeats uses her as a mouthpiece for his own ideas about faith and madness.

In the first stanza, Crazy Jane speaks directly to God, asking why he allows people to suffer:

That lover of a night
Came when he would,
Went in the dawning light
Whether I would or no;
Men come, men go;
All things remain in God.

This stanza sets the tone for the entire poem. Jane is angry, frustrated, and confused. She cannot understand why God would allow her to suffer at the hands of men, or why he would allow anyone to suffer. Her use of the phrase "lover of a night" is significant; it suggests that God is fickle, capricious, and unreliable, much like the men who have used her and discarded her.

But despite her anger, Jane does not reject God. Instead, she turns to him for comfort and guidance. In the second stanza, she describes her own spiritual journey:

Lovers, if they see us,
Shall run and hide their heart;
Come forth, my brave ones,
And let your love declare.
All hear, all know:
Widowed womb, ruined heart.

Here, Jane is asking for companionship, for others who share her faith and her struggles. The phrase "widowed womb, ruined heart" is a powerful image of the pain of spiritual isolation. By seeking out other believers, Jane hopes to find solace and strength.

The Problem of Evil

The third stanza of "Crazy Jane On God" is perhaps the most enigmatic:

I talked to some, that answered not again;
Some said, "That weeping woman
Proclaimed anew God's might and His
Forgiving and His night,"
Their eyes grew dimmer as they spoke,
And mine grew dimmer too.

Here, Jane is describing a conversation with some unnamed people. It is not clear who these people are, or what they believe. But their words have a profound effect on Jane. She is moved by their talk of God's power and forgiveness, but her own faith remains uncertain.

This stanza touches on one of the most difficult questions in theology: the problem of evil. If God is all-powerful and all-good, why does he allow evil to exist in the world? Yeats offers no clear answer to this question, and instead leaves it up to the reader to interpret.

The Mystery of Faith

The final stanza of "Crazy Jane On God" returns to the theme of faith and suffering:

Christ comes with a January flower,
And a frosty hand.
Christ comes with a rose
And a kiss for all the world.
O, hold me from going to the window,
Where the cruel winds blow.

Here, Jane is anticipating the arrival of Christ. But her anticipation is tinged with fear and uncertainty. She knows that Christ comes with both a "frosty hand" and a "kiss for all the world." She knows that faith is not always easy, and that the path to salvation is strewn with obstacles.

But despite her doubts, Jane remains steadfast in her belief. She asks to be held back from the window, where the "cruel winds blow." She knows that the winds of doubt and despair are always blowing, but she also knows that there is a deeper truth that lies beyond them.


"Crazy Jane On God" is a poem that rewards careful reading and reflection. It is a meditation on faith, madness, and the mysteries of human existence. Yeats uses the persona of Crazy Jane to explore these themes in a way that is both personal and universal.

The poem is also notable for its use of language. Yeats' words are carefully chosen, and his imagery is rich and evocative. He uses repetition, alliteration, and other poetic devices to create a sense of rhythm and momentum.

But perhaps the most remarkable thing about "Crazy Jane On God" is its ability to provoke thought and discussion. It raises questions about the nature of faith and the role of suffering in human life. It challenges us to examine our own beliefs and to consider the mysteries that lie at the heart of our existence.

In the end, "Crazy Jane On God" is a poem that speaks to the deepest parts of our souls. It reminds us that, no matter how crazy or uncertain our lives may seem, there is always hope and always a deeper truth waiting to be discovered.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Crazy Jane On God: A Poem of Spiritual Rebellion

William Butler Yeats, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, was known for his deep interest in spirituality and mysticism. His poem "Crazy Jane On God" is a powerful exploration of the human relationship with God, and the ways in which we struggle to understand and connect with the divine.

At its core, "Crazy Jane On God" is a poem of rebellion. Crazy Jane, the speaker of the poem, is a woman who has rejected the traditional religious beliefs of her society and instead embraces a more unconventional, even radical, approach to spirituality. She challenges the idea of a distant, all-powerful God who sits in judgment over humanity, and instead asserts her own agency and autonomy in her relationship with the divine.

The poem begins with Crazy Jane declaring her independence from the traditional religious authorities:

"Have you not heard that our hearts are old, / That you call in birds, in wind on the hill, / In shaken boughs, in tide on the shore, / But these are the things that ye have heard, / When the shepherd and his lass were young."

Here, Crazy Jane is rejecting the idea that the only way to connect with God is through the established rituals and practices of organized religion. She argues that the divine can be found in the natural world, in the beauty of the birds and the wind and the trees. She is asserting her own authority to interpret and understand the divine on her own terms, rather than relying on the teachings of others.

The poem then takes a more confrontational tone, as Crazy Jane challenges the traditional image of God as a distant, judgmental figure:

"O what can the heart of a man know? / His childhood has hidden the chief of his sins / And the sound that is sweetest is shyest of all, / The sound of the voice of a girl that is glad, / For youth, flattery, and passion deceive us all!"

Here, Crazy Jane is arguing that human beings are inherently flawed and imperfect, and that the traditional religious idea of a perfect, all-knowing God is a myth. She suggests that the true voice of the divine can be found in the innocent joy of a young girl, rather than in the stern pronouncements of religious authorities.

The poem then takes a more mystical turn, as Crazy Jane describes her own personal relationship with the divine:

"I am worn out with dreams; / A weather-worn, marble triton / Among the streams; / And all day long I look / Upon this lady's beauty / As though I had found in book / A pictured beauty, / Pleased to have filled the eyes / Or the discerning ears, / Delighted to be but wise, / For men improve with the years; / And yet, and yet, / Is this my dream, or the truth?"

Here, Crazy Jane is describing herself as a "weather-worn, marble triton," a mythical sea creature who has been battered by the storms of life. She is tired of the illusions and delusions of the world, and seeks refuge in the beauty of the divine. She finds solace in the beauty of a lady, which she sees as a reflection of the divine, and wonders whether this is a true vision or simply a dream.

The poem then concludes with a powerful assertion of Crazy Jane's own agency and autonomy in her relationship with the divine:

"For I would ride with you upon the wind, / Run on the top of the dishevelled tide, / And dance upon the mountains like a flame."

Here, Crazy Jane is declaring her desire to connect with the divine on her own terms, to ride the winds and dance on the mountains in a wild, ecstatic celebration of life. She rejects the idea of a distant, judgmental God who demands obedience and submission, and instead embraces a more personal, intimate relationship with the divine.

In conclusion, "Crazy Jane On God" is a powerful poem of spiritual rebellion and personal autonomy. It challenges the traditional religious beliefs of its time, and asserts the right of individuals to interpret and understand the divine on their own terms. It is a testament to the enduring power of human spirituality, and a reminder that the search for meaning and connection with the divine is a deeply personal and individual journey.

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