'Two Song From A Play' by William Butler Yeats
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I SAW a staring virgin stand
Where holy Dionysus died,
And tear the heart out of his side.
And lay the heart upon her hand
And bear that beating heart away;
Of Magnus Annus at the spring,
As though God's death were but a play.
Another Troy must rise and set,
Another lineage feed the crow,
Another Argo's painted prow
Drive to a flashier bauble yet.
The Roman Empire stood appalled:
It dropped the reins of peace and war
When that fierce virgin and her Star
Out of the fabulous darkness called.
In pity for man's darkening thought
He walked that room and issued thence
In Galilean turbulence;
The Babylonian starlight brought
A fabulous, formless darkness in;
Odour of blood when Christ was slain
Made all platonic tolerance vain
And vain all Doric discipline.
Everything that man esteems
Endures a moment or a day.
Love's pleasure drives his love away,
The painter's brush consumes his dreams;
The herald's cry, the soldier's tread
Exhaust his glory and his might:
Whatever flames upon the night
Man's own resinous heart has fed.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Two Songs From A Play: A Literary Analysis
William Butler Yeats is a towering figure in the world of literature, who has left an indelible mark on poetry and playwriting. His works are characterized by a deep exploration of themes and ideas, and a mastery of language that is both complex and beautiful. One of his most famous works is "Two Songs From A Play," which is a powerful and haunting exploration of love, death, and the passage of time.
"Two Songs From A Play" was written by Yeats in 1903 and was first published in his collection of poems titled "In the Seven Woods." The play from which the songs were taken has been lost, but the two songs themselves have become some of Yeats' most famous works. The first song, titled "The Song of Wandering Aengus," is a mystical and evocative exploration of the search for love and the passage of time. The second song, titled "The Song of the Old Mother," is a powerful and disturbing portrayal of the inevitability of death and the cycle of life.
"The Song of Wandering Aengus"
The first song in "Two Songs From A Play" is "The Song of Wandering Aengus," which is a mystical and haunting exploration of the search for love and the passage of time. The song tells the story of a man named Aengus who is searching for a woman he has fallen in love with, who he saw in a dream. The dream is described in vivid detail, with Aengus seeing the woman's "hair as midnight black, her eyes as dark as coal," and feeling an overwhelming sense of love and longing for her.
The song is filled with rich and evocative imagery, with Yeats masterfully using language to create a vivid and immersive world. The lines "I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head" are particularly powerful, as they capture the sense of restlessness and urgency that Aengus feels as he sets out on his quest. The hazel wood itself is a symbol of the mystical and the unknown, and the fire in Aengus' head suggests a kind of madness or obsession.
As Aengus searches for the woman of his dreams, he encounters a series of obstacles, including a "glimmering girl" who disappears as he reaches out to touch her, and an old man who tells him that the woman he is searching for "is beyond the known world." Despite these setbacks, Aengus continues on his quest, driven by his love and his longing.
Ultimately, Aengus finds the woman he has been searching for, but only after a long and difficult journey. The final lines of the song are particularly moving, with Aengus describing the moment when he finally sees the woman again: "Though I am old with wandering, through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, and kiss her lips and take her hands."
Overall, "The Song of Wandering Aengus" is a powerful and evocative exploration of love and longing, and the endless search for the things that we desire. Yeats' use of language and imagery is masterful, and the song is a testament to his skill as a poet and storyteller.
"The Song of the Old Mother"
The second song in "Two Songs From A Play" is "The Song of the Old Mother," which is a powerful and disturbing exploration of the inevitability of death and the cycle of life. The song tells the story of an old woman who is reflecting on her life and the passage of time. The woman is described in vivid detail, with Yeats using language to create a sense of decay and decay, as well as the inevitability of death.
The lines "I rise in the dawn, and I kneel and blow, till the seed of the fire flicker and glow" are particularly powerful, as they capture the sense of the old woman's daily routine and the way in which she has become almost like a part of the earth itself. The repetition of the word "rise" also creates a sense of cyclical movement, suggesting that the old woman's life is part of a larger pattern that goes on endlessly.
As the song progresses, the old woman begins to reflect on her life and the passage of time. She speaks of her children, who have grown up and left her, and of the way in which she has become like a "shabby equipment" that is no longer of use. The lines "I am tired of straw, O mother, I am tired of fur" are particularly poignant, as they capture the sense of weariness and exhaustion that the old woman feels.
Ultimately, the song is a powerful meditation on the inevitability of death and the cycle of life. The repetition of the word "go" in the final stanza creates a sense of movement and finality, suggesting that the old woman's life is coming to an end. The final lines, "And the young lie long and the old lie cold, even as I do now" are particularly haunting, as they capture the sense of the old woman's resignation and acceptance of her fate.
"Two Songs From A Play" is a powerful and haunting exploration of love, death, and the passage of time. The two songs in the play are vastly different in tone and subject matter, but both are masterpieces of Yeats' craft. "The Song of Wandering Aengus" is a mystical and evocative exploration of the search for love, while "The Song of the Old Mother" is a powerful and disturbing meditation on the inevitability of death and the cycle of life. Together, they create a powerful and complex portrait of the human experience, and continue to resonate with readers today.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Two Song From A Play: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet, playwright, and politician, is one of the most celebrated literary figures of the 20th century. His works are known for their lyrical beauty, mysticism, and symbolism. Among his many masterpieces, Poetry Two Song From A Play stands out as a shining example of his genius.
Poetry Two Song From A Play is a two-part poem that was originally written as a song for Yeats' play, The Countess Cathleen. The play, which was first performed in 1899, tells the story of a wealthy Irish noblewoman who sells her soul to the devil to save her starving tenants during a famine. The play was controversial at the time of its release, as it dealt with themes of religion, morality, and social justice.
The first part of Poetry Two Song From A Play is titled "The Players Ask for a Blessing on the Psalteries and on Themselves." The poem begins with a request for a blessing on the psalteries, which are musical instruments similar to harps. The players, who are musicians in the play, ask for the blessing so that they may play their music with skill and passion. The poem then shifts to a request for a blessing on the players themselves, asking for protection from evil spirits and for the ability to inspire and move their audience.
The language of the poem is rich and evocative, with Yeats using vivid imagery to create a sense of mysticism and wonder. For example, he describes the psalteries as "the silver and gold of the moon" and the players as "the children of the wind." These images create a sense of otherworldliness, as if the players and their music are not of this world but come from a higher realm.
The second part of Poetry Two Song From A Play is titled "The Unappeasable Host." This part of the poem is darker and more ominous than the first, reflecting the themes of the play itself. The poem describes a group of spirits who are unappeasable and cannot be satisfied. They are described as "the host that is not thanked," suggesting that they are angry and resentful.
The language of the poem is again rich and evocative, with Yeats using powerful imagery to create a sense of fear and foreboding. For example, he describes the spirits as "the darkened, silent house," suggesting that they are hidden and mysterious. He also describes them as "the shadowy banners of the army of the dead," creating a sense of dread and terror.
The two parts of Poetry Two Song From A Play are connected by their themes of music and spirituality. The first part celebrates the power of music to inspire and move people, while the second part warns of the dangers of spiritual neglect and the consequences of ignoring the needs of the soul.
Overall, Poetry Two Song From A Play is a masterpiece of poetry that showcases Yeats' mastery of language, imagery, and symbolism. It is a powerful and evocative work that captures the essence of his literary style and his deep spiritual beliefs. Whether read as a standalone poem or as part of the larger play, it is a work that continues to inspire and move readers to this day.
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