'The Collar-Bone Of A Hare' by William Butler Yeats
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WOULD I could cast a sad on the water
Where many a king has gone
And many a king's daughter,
And alight at the comely trees and the lawn,
The playing upon pipes and the dancing,
And learn that the best thing is
To change my loves while dancing
And pay but a kiss for a kiss.
I would find by the edge of that water
The collar-bone of a hare
Worn thin by the lapping of water,
And pierce it through with a gimlet, and stare
At the old bitter world where they marry in churches,
And laugh over the untroubled water
At all who marry in churches,
Through the white thin bone of a hare.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Collar-Bone of a Hare: An Analysis
If you love poetry that's layered with meaning and imagery, then William Butler Yeats' "The Collar-Bone of a Hare" is a must-read. This poem is a great example of Yeats' early work, which is often characterized by a fascination with the occult, Irish folklore, and mythological symbolism. In this analysis, we'll take a closer look at the themes, imagery, and symbols in this poem and what they might mean.
At its core, "The Collar-Bone of a Hare" is a poem about the transience of life and the inevitability of death. The speaker of the poem reflects on the fleeting nature of existence and how everything, including ourselves, is destined to decay and disappear. However, the poem is not a mournful lament but rather a celebration of life's impermanence.
The imagery in "The Collar-Bone of a Hare" is both beautiful and haunting. Yeats uses vivid descriptions of the natural world to convey his message about life and death. For example, in the opening lines of the poem, Yeats describes the hare's collar-bone as "wrought of coral and of rock" and says that it "enchants my dust." This image juxtaposes the fragility of the bone with the enduring beauty and strength of coral and rock, highlighting the paradox of life's impermanence.
Throughout the poem, Yeats continues to use natural imagery to explore the theme of life and death. He describes the hare's fur as "soft as the breast of a dove" and the "sandy floor that's patterned with green and brown" as a symbol of the cycles of life and death.
One of the most intriguing symbols in "The Collar-Bone of a Hare" is the hare itself. Hares have long been associated with magic, transformation, and the moon in Irish folklore. In this poem, the hare represents the transience of life and the inevitability of death. Similarly, the collar-bone represents the fragility of life and the impermanence of everything.
Another symbol in the poem is the "sandy floor." This symbolizes the cyclical nature of life and death, as the sand represents the passing of time and the patterns of green and brown represent the changing seasons.
While "The Collar-Bone of a Hare" may appear to be a simple poem about the transience of life, it is layered with symbolism and meaning that is open to interpretation. One possible interpretation is that the poem is a meditation on the Buddhist concept of impermanence, which states that everything in life is in a state of constant change and that attachment to things that are impermanent leads to suffering.
Another interpretation is that the poem is a reflection on Yeats' own mortality. In a letter to his father, Yeats wrote, "I am not afraid of death, but I am afraid of not living." This sentiment is echoed in the final lines of the poem, where the speaker says, "for I would bid my love farewell, and the hound come in."
"The Collar-Bone of a Hare" is a haunting and beautiful poem that explores the fragility of life and the inevitability of death. Through its use of vivid imagery and symbolism, the poem invites us to reflect on our own mortality and the transience of everything around us. Ultimately, the poem is a celebration of life's impermanence, reminding us to cherish every moment and bid our loves farewell with grace and acceptance.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Collar-Bone of a Hare: A Poem of Mysticism and Nature
William Butler Yeats, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, was known for his deep interest in mysticism and the occult. His poetry often reflects his fascination with the supernatural and the spiritual, as well as his love for nature. One of his most famous poems, "The Collar-Bone of a Hare," is a perfect example of this combination of mysticism and nature.
The poem, which was first published in 1928, is a short but powerful meditation on the beauty and mystery of the natural world. It begins with the speaker describing a moment of intense connection with nature:
"Out of Ireland have we come. Great hatred, little room, Maimed us at the start. I carry from my mother's womb A fanatic heart."
The speaker's sense of connection to Ireland, his homeland, is clear from the opening lines. He describes the country as a place of "great hatred" and "little room," suggesting that it is a place of conflict and struggle. But despite this, he feels a deep attachment to the land and its people, which he attributes to his "fanatic heart."
The next stanza of the poem is where the title comes into play:
"I carry it in my heart. A magic charm did I lay On the collar-bone of a hare, Eyeing a Sylvan dwelling-place Ashore on the morning air."
Here, the speaker describes a moment of enchantment when he laid a "magic charm" on the collar-bone of a hare. This act seems to have some kind of mystical significance, as the speaker suggests that he was "eyeing a Sylvan dwelling-place" at the time. The word "Sylvan" refers to a forest or woodland, and suggests that the speaker was in a natural setting when he performed this act.
The next stanza continues this theme of mystical connection to nature:
"I am haunted by numberless islands, And many a Danaan shore, Where Time would surely forget us, And Sorrow come near us no more; Soon far from the rose and the lily And fret of the flames would we be, Were we only white birds, my beloved, Buoyed out on the foam of the sea."
Here, the speaker describes a longing to escape from the troubles of the world and find solace in nature. He imagines himself and his beloved as "white birds" floating on the sea, far from the "fret of the flames" and the "rose and the lily" of civilization. This image suggests a desire for simplicity and purity, and a rejection of the complexities and conflicts of human society.
The final stanza of the poem brings these themes together in a powerful conclusion:
"But we are human, and so we miss The kind that rip us open, and kiss The wounds that we let in." The speaker acknowledges that despite his longing for connection to nature and escape from the troubles of the world, he is still human and subject to the pain and suffering that comes with it. He suggests that it is through this pain and suffering that we are "ripped open" and able to connect with others on a deeper level.
Overall, "The Collar-Bone of a Hare" is a beautiful and haunting poem that explores the themes of mysticism, nature, and human connection. Yeats' use of language is masterful, and his ability to evoke a sense of wonder and enchantment is unparalleled. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the beauty and mystery of the world around us, and to connect us to something greater than ourselves.
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