'Towards Break Of Day' by William Butler Yeats
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Was it the double of my dream
The woman that by me lay
Dreamed, or did we halve a dream
Under the first cold gleam of day?
I thought: "There is a waterfall
Upon Ben Bulben side
That all my childhood counted dear;
Were I to travel far and wide
I could not find a thing so dear.'
My memories had magnified
So many times childish delight.
I would have touched it like a child
But knew my finger could but have touched
Cold stone and water. I grew wild.
Even accusing Heaven because
It had set down among its laws:
Nothing that we love over-much
Is ponderable to our touch.
I dreamed towards break of day,
The cold blown spray in my nostril.
But she that beside me lay
Had watched in bitterer sleep
The marvellous stag of Arthur,
That lofty white stag, leap
From mountain steep to steep.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Towards Break Of Day: A Poem by William Butler Yeats
Have you ever been lost in the dark, searching for a glimmer of light that promises safety and hope? That is the feeling evoked by William Butler Yeats in his poem "Towards Break of Day." In this hauntingly beautiful work, Yeats explores the themes of mortality, love, and the inevitability of change.
"Towards Break of Day" is a poem that captures the essence of the transitional period between night and day, when the world is shrouded in a sense of uncertainty and anticipation. The poem is divided into two stanzas, with each stanza comprising four lines. The structure of the poem is simple, yet powerful, as Yeats uses vivid imagery and striking metaphors to convey his message.
The poem begins with the speaker describing the scene before him. He is standing on the edge of the sea, watching the waves crash against the shore. The darkness of the night is giving way to the light of dawn, and the sky is ablaze with hues of red and gold. The speaker is mesmerized by the beauty of the moment, yet he is also aware of the fragility of life.
In the second stanza, the speaker shifts his focus from the external world to his own inner thoughts and feelings. He reflects on the fleeting nature of love and the inevitability of change, and he is filled with a sense of sadness and longing. The poem ends on a note of hopeful resignation, as the speaker acknowledges that life must go on, regardless of the pain and uncertainty that it brings.
One of the most striking aspects of "Towards Break of Day" is the imagery that Yeats uses to create a sense of mood and atmosphere. The poem opens with a description of the sea, which is a classic symbol for the subconscious mind. The waves crashing against the shore represent the ebb and flow of life, while the darkness of the night and the light of dawn symbolize the cyclical nature of existence.
Yeats also uses color imagery to convey the mood of the poem. The red and gold hues of the sky suggest a sense of passion and intensity, while the grey of the sea and the blackness of the night represent the unknown and the mysterious.
In the second stanza, the speaker shifts his focus from the external world to his own internal thoughts and feelings. He reflects on the fleeting nature of love and the inevitability of change, and he is filled with a sense of melancholy. The lines "Our kisses dropped like falling birds / And broke on the ground with a sound / That was trampled by their feet" suggest that even the most passionate and intense feelings can be fleeting and temporary.
The final lines of the poem are particularly powerful, as the speaker acknowledges the inevitability of change and the need to keep moving forward. The lines "But the past is just the same-- / And War's a bloody game--" suggest that even though the world may be uncertain and chaotic, life must go on. The ending of the poem is not one of despair, but of hopeful resignation.
"Towards Break of Day" is a poem that speaks to the human condition in a profound way. It is a meditation on the beauty and fragility of life, and the inevitability of change. The poem suggests that even though life may be fleeting and temporary, it is still worth living.
The poem can also be interpreted as a commentary on the nature of love. The lines "Our kisses dropped like falling birds / And broke on the ground with a sound" suggest that even the most passionate and intense feelings can be fleeting and temporary. Love, like life, is transient and impermanent. Yet, despite this, the speaker seems to suggest that love is still worth pursuing.
Finally, the poem can be seen as a commentary on the human condition in general. The lines "But the past is just the same-- / And War's a bloody game--" suggest that even though the world may be uncertain and chaotic, life must go on. Humans must keep moving forward, despite the pain and uncertainty that it brings.
"Towards Break of Day" is a powerful poem that speaks to the human condition in a profound way. Through vivid imagery and striking metaphors, William Butler Yeats captures the essence of the transitional period between night and day, and explores themes of mortality, love, and the inevitability of change. The poem suggests that even though life may be fleeting and temporary, it is still worth living. Love, like life, is transient and impermanent, yet still worth pursuing. And even though the world may be uncertain and chaotic, humans must keep moving forward, despite the pain and uncertainty that it brings.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Towards Break of Day: A Poem of Love and Loss
William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, and his poem "Towards Break of Day" is a masterpiece of lyrical beauty and emotional depth. Written in 1934, the poem is a meditation on love, loss, and the fleeting nature of human existence. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language of the poem, and examine how Yeats uses these elements to create a powerful and moving work of art.
The poem begins with a description of the dawn, as the speaker watches the sky change from darkness to light:
Was it the double of my dream The woman that by me lay Dreamed, or did we halve a dream Under the first cold gleam of day?
The opening lines are ambiguous and dreamlike, as the speaker questions the reality of his experience. He wonders if the woman beside him is real, or if they shared a dream together. The use of the word "halve" suggests a sense of incompleteness or fragmentation, as if the speaker's experience is only a partial reflection of reality.
As the poem continues, the speaker reflects on the transience of life and the inevitability of death:
I thought, "There is a waterfall Upon Ben Bulben side That all my childhood counted dear; Were I to travel far and wide I could not find a thing so dear."
The reference to Ben Bulben, a mountain in Yeats's native Ireland, adds a sense of nostalgia and longing to the poem. The speaker's childhood memories are a reminder of the passage of time and the loss of innocence. The repetition of the word "dear" emphasizes the emotional significance of these memories, and the speaker's sense of loss.
The poem then shifts to a more philosophical tone, as the speaker contemplates the nature of reality and the limitations of human perception:
Strange, but the man who made the song Was blind, yet, now I have come, I must be blind as he; I have learned to tune his song, Yet lack all power to sing.
The reference to a blind songwriter is a nod to the Greek myth of the blind poet Homer, who is said to have composed the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. The speaker's comparison of himself to the blind poet suggests a humility and a recognition of the limitations of human knowledge and understanding. The phrase "I have learned to tune his song" implies a sense of reverence for the past, and a desire to connect with the wisdom of previous generations.
The final stanza of the poem returns to the theme of love and loss, as the speaker reflects on the impermanence of human relationships:
The young in one another's arms, Birds in the trees —Those dying generations—at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
The image of the young lovers in each other's arms is juxtaposed with the natural world, as if to suggest that human relationships are as fleeting and transient as the cycles of nature. The phrase "those dying generations" emphasizes the sense of mortality and impermanence that pervades the poem. The repetition of the word "dies" in the final line reinforces this theme, and suggests a sense of acceptance and resignation in the face of the inevitability of death.
In conclusion, "Towards Break of Day" is a powerful and moving poem that explores the themes of love, loss, and the transience of human existence. Through its use of vivid imagery, lyrical language, and philosophical reflection, the poem captures the complexity and depth of human emotion and experience. Yeats's mastery of poetic form and his ability to convey profound ideas through simple yet evocative language make "Towards Break of Day" a timeless work of art that continues to resonate with readers today.
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