'The Lady's Third Song' by William Butler Yeats

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WHEN you and my true lover meet
And he plays tunes between your feet.
Speak no evil of the soul,
Nor think that body is the whole,
For I that am his daylight lady
Know worse evil of the body;
But in honour split his love
Till either neither have enough,
That I may hear if we should kiss
A contrapuntal serpent hiss,
You, should hand explore a thigh,
All the labouring heavens sigh.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Lady's Third Song: A Masterpiece of Yeats

I couldn't help but feel a chill run down my spine as I read The Lady's Third Song by William Butler Yeats. The sheer beauty of the poem was overwhelming as I took in the rich imagery, the haunting rhythm, and the deep emotions that it conveyed. This is not just a poem, but a masterpiece of Yeats' oeuvre, showcasing his mastery of language and his ability to create a world that is both otherworldly and yet familiar.

At its core, The Lady's Third Song is a meditation on the fleeting nature of beauty and the inevitability of death. The lady in the poem is a symbol of youth, vitality, and beauty, and the speaker is captivated by her charms. Yet, even as he is entranced by her, he is also aware of the fact that she is ephemeral and that her beauty will fade with time. The poem is thus a reminder of the transience of life and a call to embrace the present moment.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of imagery. Yeats creates a vivid picture of the lady, describing her as "white as an April snowflake on the ground" and "fairer than the spray of the hill." The use of simile and metaphor adds depth and nuance to the image, evoking a sense of wonder and awe. The image of the snowflake, for instance, suggests both purity and fragility, while the image of the spray of the hill evokes a sense of movement and vitality.

The imagery in the poem is not just limited to the lady, however. Yeats also creates a rich and evocative landscape, describing "the green wheat's growing silk, / The yellow buttercups that shake for very cold." The contrast between the white lady and the green and yellow landscape creates a sense of harmony and balance, while the use of synesthesia (the buttercups "shake" for "very cold") adds a layer of complexity and depth to the image.

But it is not just the imagery that makes The Lady's Third Song so powerful. The poem is also remarkable for its use of sound and rhythm. Yeats employs a complex rhyme scheme (abcb) and a meter that alternates between iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter. The result is a musical and mesmerizing rhythm that draws the reader in and immerses them in the poem's world. The repetition of certain phrases ("white as," "fairer than") adds to the rhythm and reinforces the poem's central themes.

The Lady's Third Song is also notable for its use of symbolism. The lady in the poem is not just a beautiful woman but a symbol of youth and vitality. The poem is thus a meditation on the passage of time and the inevitability of death, as the lady's beauty fades and she disappears into the mist. The mist itself is also symbolic, representing the uncertainty and unpredictability of life. The fact that the speaker cannot see beyond the mist suggests that there is a limit to our knowledge and that we must accept the mystery of life.

The poem is also rich in allusions and references. The line "That wandering, ever more about / The poor, poor house with the mist all round" is a reference to the Irish folktale of the Banshee, a supernatural being associated with death. The reference to the "poor, poor house" suggests that death is not just a personal tragedy but a universal one, affecting all of us in the end.

In conclusion, The Lady's Third Song is a masterpiece of Yeats' oeuvre, showcasing his mastery of language, imagery, sound, and symbol. The poem is a meditation on the transience of life and the inevitability of death, as well as a call to embrace the present moment and find beauty in the fleetingness of life. The beauty and power of the poem are such that it will stay with me for a long time to come, a testament to the enduring legacy of Yeats' poetry.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Lady's Third Song: A Masterpiece of William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet, playwright, and politician, is widely regarded as one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century. His works are known for their lyrical beauty, mystical themes, and profound insights into the human condition. Among his many masterpieces, The Lady's Third Song stands out as a shining example of his poetic genius.

The Lady's Third Song is a poem that was first published in Yeats' collection, The Wind Among the Reeds, in 1899. It is a part of a series of poems that are collectively known as The Rose. The poem is written in the form of a song, and it tells the story of a lady who is waiting for her lover to return. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which has four lines.

The first stanza of the poem sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It begins with the lady asking the wind to bring her lover back to her. She says, "When you are old and grey and full of sleep, / And nodding by the fire, take down this book, / And slowly read, and dream of the soft look / Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep."

The lady is addressing her lover, who she imagines will be old and grey one day. She is asking him to remember the way she looked at him when they were young and in love. She wants him to remember the "soft look" in her eyes and the "shadows deep" that were cast by her eyelashes.

The second stanza of the poem is more introspective. The lady is reflecting on her own feelings and emotions. She says, "How many loved your moments of glad grace, / And loved your beauty with love false or true, / But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, / And loved the sorrows of your changing face."

The lady is acknowledging that many people may have loved her lover for his good looks or his charming personality. However, she believes that only one person truly loved him for who he was on the inside. She is saying that this person loved his "pilgrim soul," which is a metaphor for his inner self, and that he loved her even when she was going through difficult times.

The third and final stanza of the poem is the most emotional. The lady is expressing her deep love and devotion to her lover. She says, "And bending down beside the glowing bars, / Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled / And paced upon the mountains overhead, / And hid his face amid a crowd of stars."

The lady is imagining herself sitting by the fire, thinking about her lover. She is saying that love has fled from her life, and that it has gone up into the mountains and hidden its face among the stars. She is expressing her sadness and her longing for her lover to return.

The Lady's Third Song is a masterpiece of poetry that is filled with rich imagery, deep emotions, and profound insights into the human condition. It is a poem that speaks to the universal themes of love, loss, and longing. Yeats' use of metaphor and symbolism is masterful, and his language is lyrical and beautiful.

The poem is also notable for its use of repetition. The phrase "loved the sorrows of your changing face" is repeated twice in the poem, emphasizing the idea that true love is not just about loving someone when they are happy and beautiful, but also when they are going through difficult times.

In conclusion, The Lady's Third Song is a timeless masterpiece of poetry that continues to inspire and move readers today. It is a testament to Yeats' poetic genius and his ability to capture the essence of the human experience in his writing. Whether you are a lover of poetry or simply someone who appreciates beautiful language and deep emotions, this poem is a must-read.

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