'The Living Beauty' by William Butler Yeats

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I BADE, because the wick and oil are spent
And frozen are the channels of the blood,
My discontented heart to draw content
From beauty that is cast out of a mould
In bronze, or that in dazzling marble appears,
Appears, but when wc have gone is gone again,
Being more indifferent to our solitude
Than 'twere an apparition.O heart, we are old;
The living beauty is for younger men:
We cannot pay its rribute of wild tears.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Living Beauty by William Butler Yeats: An Ode to Eternal Youth

William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, known for his lyrical and spiritual works that explore themes of love, death, and the human condition. Among his many masterpieces, "The Living Beauty" stands out as a shining example of his poetic genius, a tribute to the enduring power of beauty and youth that transcends time and mortality.

In this 36-line poem, Yeats invokes the image of a young girl, whom he calls the "living beauty," and praises her for her grace, charm, and purity. He marvels at her ability to captivate and enchant those around her, and wonders if she is indeed immortal, a divine being who never grows old or fades away.

The poem is written in a free-verse style, with irregular stanzas that vary in length and structure. This gives the poem a sense of fluidity and spontaneity, as if Yeats is expressing his thoughts and emotions in a stream-of-consciousness manner, without the constraints of meter or rhyme. The language is simple and clear, with vivid images and metaphors that evoke a sense of wonder and awe.

The opening lines of the poem set the tone for its main theme:

"She holds a lute with strings of shimmering tone,
And when her finger touches them,
It trembles like her own sweet spirit's moan
With melodies of long ago and far."

Here, Yeats introduces us to the "living beauty" and her musical talents, which he compares to the ethereal sound of her own voice. The lute, a traditional instrument of beauty and romance, symbolizes the girl's artistry and sensitivity, as well as her connection to the past and the timeless quality of music.

As the poem progresses, Yeats continues to describe the girl's physical and spiritual attributes, emphasizing her youth and innocence:

"She walks in beauty like the night,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies."

These lines, borrowed from Lord Byron's famous poem "She Walks in Beauty," suggest that the "living beauty" embodies both light and darkness, beauty and mystery, in a harmonious blend that is both captivating and soothing. The reference to heaven and its rejection of earthly pleasures reinforces the idea that the girl is a transcendent being, a symbol of purity and grace.

The poem then takes on a more philosophical tone, as Yeats reflects on the nature of beauty and its relation to mortality:

"But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, came from distant lands;
And when she saw the phantom bands,
She clasped her lute with quivering hands."

Here, Yeats suggests that the "living beauty" is aware of her own mortality, and yet she continues to seek out beauty and joy in life, even in the face of death. The "mirror's magic sights" refer to the girl's fascination with her own image, which she uses to create illusions and fantasies that help her cope with the harsh realities of life. The funeral procession, with its somber music and ornate decorations, serves as a reminder of the transience of life, and yet the girl remains undeterred, clinging to her lute as a source of comfort and solace.

The final stanza of the poem marks a turning point, as Yeats shifts his focus from the girl to himself, and speaks directly to the reader:

"Ah, happy, happy boughs!
That cannot shed your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And happy melodist, unwearied,
Forever piping songs forever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoyed,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloyed,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue."

Here, Yeats expresses his longing for eternal youth and beauty, and his envy of the "happy boughs" that never wither or fade. He also celebrates the power of music and love to transcend time and mortality, urging us to embrace these gifts and cherish them while we can. The phrase "panting, and for ever young" echoes the opening lines of John Keats' "Ode to a Grecian Urn," which also explores the theme of eternal youth and beauty, and suggests that Yeats is drawing on the same Romantic tradition.

Overall, "The Living Beauty" is a masterful ode to youth and beauty, a tribute to the enduring power of art and love in the face of mortality. Yeats' language is simple yet evocative, his imagery vivid and striking, and his themes universal and timeless. The poem invites us to contemplate our own mortality, and to find solace and inspiration in the beauty and grace that surrounds us, even in the darkest of times.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has the power to evoke emotions and stir the soul. One such poem that has stood the test of time is "The Living Beauty" by William Butler Yeats. This poem is a beautiful ode to the beauty of nature and the fleeting nature of life. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of this poem and explore its themes, symbolism, and literary devices.

"The Living Beauty" is a sonnet, a 14-line poem with a strict rhyme scheme. Yeats uses the traditional rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, which gives the poem a musical quality. The poem is divided into two quatrains and two tercets, with a volta or turn in the ninth line. The volta marks a shift in the poem's tone and introduces a new idea.

The poem begins with the speaker admiring the beauty of a woman, whom he calls the "living beauty." The woman is described as having "golden hair" and "bright eyes," which are reminiscent of the sun and the stars. The speaker is in awe of her beauty and compares her to the natural world, saying that she is "more lovely than the sun" and "more beautiful than the moon."

The first quatrain sets the tone for the poem and establishes the theme of beauty. The speaker is captivated by the woman's beauty and sees her as a reflection of the natural world. The use of imagery, such as the sun and the moon, creates a sense of wonder and awe.

In the second quatrain, the speaker shifts his focus to the fleeting nature of life. He acknowledges that beauty is temporary and that everything in life is subject to change. He says, "All things that perish, from life's first decree, / Much beauty must pass before it be born." This line suggests that beauty is a rare and precious thing that must be appreciated before it fades away.

The volta in the ninth line marks a shift in the poem's tone and introduces a new idea. The speaker says, "Oh, how thy worth with manners may I sing, / When thou art all the better part of me?" This line suggests that the woman's beauty is not just external but also internal. She is the "better part" of the speaker, and her worth cannot be fully expressed through words.

In the final tercet, the speaker reflects on the transience of life and the inevitability of death. He says, "What can I say but that I linger on, / With nothing else to do but muse and sigh, / Till the stars burn out, and the night is gone." This line suggests that the speaker is resigned to the fact that life is fleeting and that all he can do is appreciate the beauty around him while it lasts.

Symbolism plays an important role in "The Living Beauty." The woman is described as having "golden hair" and "bright eyes," which are symbolic of the sun and the stars. The sun and the stars are often associated with beauty and radiance, and the woman's beauty is compared to these celestial bodies. The use of the sun and the moon also creates a sense of timelessness and eternity, which contrasts with the poem's theme of transience.

The use of the word "living" in the title and throughout the poem is also symbolic. The woman is referred to as the "living beauty," which suggests that she is alive and vibrant. The word "living" also contrasts with the theme of death and transience in the poem. The woman's beauty is a reminder that life is fleeting and that we should appreciate the beauty around us while we can.

Yeats also employs several literary devices in "The Living Beauty." The use of imagery, such as the sun and the moon, creates a sense of wonder and awe. The repetition of the word "more" in the first quatrain emphasizes the woman's beauty and creates a sense of admiration. The use of alliteration, such as "golden hair" and "bright eyes," creates a musical quality and draws attention to the woman's beauty.

The use of enjambment, where a sentence or phrase continues onto the next line, creates a sense of flow and continuity. For example, in the first quatrain, the line "More lovely than the sun, / More beautiful than the moon" continues onto the next line, creating a sense of unity between the two lines.

In conclusion, "The Living Beauty" is a beautiful poem that celebrates the beauty of nature and the fleeting nature of life. Yeats uses symbolism, imagery, and literary devices to create a sense of wonder and awe. The poem's theme of transience is a reminder that life is short and that we should appreciate the beauty around us while we can. "The Living Beauty" is a timeless poem that continues to inspire and evoke emotions in readers today.

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