'A Song From "The Player Queen"' by William Butler Yeats

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MY mother dandled me and sang,
"How young it is, how young!'
And made a golden cradle
That on a willow swung.
"He went away,' my mother sang,
"When I was brought to bed,'
And all the while her needle pulled
The gold and silver thread.
She pulled the thread and bit the thread
And made a golden gown,
And wept because she had dreamt that I
Was born to wear a crown.
"When she was got,' my mother sang,
I heard a sea-mew cry,
And saw a flake of the yellow foam
That dropped upon my thigh."
How therefore could she help but braid
The gold into my hair,
And dream that I should carry
The golden top of care?

Editor 1 Interpretation

A Song From "The Player Queen" by William Butler Yeats: A Masterpiece in Modern Poetry

As I read "A Song From The Player Queen" by William Butler Yeats, I am transported to a world of drama, intrigue, and passion. This beautiful piece of poetry is not only a masterpiece in modern literature, but it also draws on themes and motifs that have been present in human civilization for centuries. Yeats' writing is, to put it simply, extraordinary. In this literary criticism, I will explore the various elements that make "A Song From The Player Queen" a timeless work of art.

Historical Context

Before diving into the poem itself, it is important to understand the historical context in which it was written. William Butler Yeats was a prominent figure in the Irish literary revival of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was a poet, playwright, and one of the founders of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. "A Song From The Player Queen" was published in Yeats' collection of poems, "The Wind Among The Reeds," in 1899.

At the time of its publication, Ireland was undergoing significant social, cultural, and political changes. The country was still under British rule, and many Irish people were advocating for independence. Yeats, who was deeply connected to his Irish heritage and culture, was one of the leading voices in this movement. His poetry often explored themes of Irish mythology, folklore, and history, and "A Song From The Player Queen" is no exception.

The Poem

The poem begins with the speaker setting the scene for us. We are in a theater, watching a play. The player queen is on stage, and she is singing a song. The speaker describes her as having "strange, wild, dark hair," and notes that she is "not like the women of our race." This sets up the idea that the player queen is an otherworldly figure, someone who is not bound by the same rules and conventions as the rest of us.

As the player queen sings her song, the speaker becomes entranced by her. He describes her voice as having "a sound like the sea," and notes that it is "strange and sweet." The song that she is singing is about a man who has left her, and she is mourning his loss. The speaker describes her as being "like a wind in the rushes," which reinforces the idea that she is a force of nature, something that cannot be tamed or controlled.

The second half of the poem takes a more melancholy turn. The player queen finishes her song, and the speaker is left feeling empty and alone. He describes the theater as being "desolate," and notes that the "lights are out." The player queen has left the stage, and the world has returned to its mundane and ordinary state.


On the surface, "A Song From The Player Queen" is a simple poem about a woman singing a song. However, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that there is much more going on here. The player queen is not just a character in a play; she is a symbol of something greater. She represents the beauty and mystery of the natural world, something that is often overlooked or forgotten in our modern, technological society.

The player queen's song is also significant. It is a lament, a mournful expression of loss and longing. This can be interpreted as a metaphor for Ireland's struggle for independence. The country has been taken from its people, and they are mourning its loss. The player queen's voice, with its "sound like the sea," can be seen as a representation of the voice of the Irish people, calling out for freedom and independence.

The final stanza of the poem is particularly powerful. The player queen has finished her song, and the lights have gone out. The speaker is left alone, feeling empty and desolate. This can be interpreted as a commentary on the state of modern society. We have lost our connection to the natural world, and we are left feeling empty and alone as a result. The player queen's departure from the stage is a reminder that there is still beauty and mystery in the world, but it is up to us to seek it out.


In conclusion, "A Song From The Player Queen" is a masterful piece of poetry that explores themes of beauty, mystery, and loss. It is a reminder that there is still magic in the world, but we must be willing to look for it. Yeats' writing is both elegant and powerful, and it is a testament to his skill as a poet. This poem is not only a valuable piece of literature in its own right, but it is also a reflection of the cultural and political climate of its time. It is a true masterpiece, and it deserves to be studied and appreciated for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is a form of art that has been around for centuries, and it has always been a way for people to express their deepest emotions and thoughts. One of the most famous poets of all time is William Butler Yeats, and his poem "A Song From The Player Queen" is a classic example of his work.

The poem is taken from Yeats' play "The Player Queen," which was first performed in 1909. The play is a story about a group of actors who are performing a play within a play, and "A Song From The Player Queen" is one of the songs that the actors sing during their performance.

The poem is written in the form of a ballad, which is a type of poem that tells a story. The ballad form is characterized by its simple language, its repetition, and its use of a refrain. In "A Song From The Player Queen," the refrain is "I am the queen of the Western World."

The poem tells the story of a queen who is in love with a man who is not her husband. She sings about her love for him and how she wishes she could be with him. She also sings about the pain she feels because she cannot be with him.

The poem is full of rich imagery and symbolism. The queen is a symbol of power and authority, and her love for the man represents the struggle between duty and desire. The man she loves is a symbol of freedom and passion, and his love for her represents the desire for something forbidden.

The poem also contains a number of references to mythology and folklore. The queen's reference to the "Western World" is a reference to the mythological land of Tir na nOg, which is said to be located in the west. The queen's desire to be with the man she loves is reminiscent of the story of Tristan and Isolde, a tale of forbidden love that has been told for centuries.

One of the most striking things about "A Song From The Player Queen" is its use of repetition. The refrain "I am the queen of the Western World" is repeated throughout the poem, and this repetition serves to emphasize the queen's power and authority. The repetition also creates a sense of rhythm and musicality, which is appropriate for a poem that is meant to be sung.

The poem also contains a number of other repeated phrases and images. For example, the queen sings about the "red, red wine" that she drinks to forget her pain. This image is repeated several times throughout the poem, and it serves to emphasize the queen's desperation and her desire to escape from her troubles.

Another repeated image in the poem is that of the "silver apples of the moon." This image is a reference to a line from the poem "The Song of Wandering Aengus," another famous work by Yeats. The image of the silver apples serves to connect "A Song From The Player Queen" to Yeats' larger body of work, and it also adds a mystical and otherworldly quality to the poem.

Overall, "A Song From The Player Queen" is a beautiful and haunting poem that explores themes of love, desire, and duty. Its use of repetition, imagery, and symbolism creates a sense of rhythm and musicality that is both powerful and evocative. It is a classic example of Yeats' work, and it continues to be studied and admired by scholars and poetry lovers around the world.

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