'A Model For The Laureate' by William Butler Yeats
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ON thrones from China to Peru
All sorts of kings have sat
That men and women of all sorts
proclaimed both good and great;
And what's the odds if such as these
For reason of the State
Should keep their lovers waiting,
Keep their lovers waiting?
Some boast of beggar-kings and kings
Of rascals black and white
That rule because a strong right arm
Puts all men in a fright,
And drunk or sober live at ease
Where none gainsay their right,
And keep their lovers waiting,
Keep their lovers waiting.
The Muse is mute when public men
Applaud a modern throne:
Those cheers that can be bought or sold,
That office fools have run,
That waxen seal, that signature.
For things like these what decent man
Would keep his lover waiting,
Keep his lover waiting?
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, A Model For The Laureate
When you think of poetry, what comes to mind? Perhaps you imagine beautiful words, carefully crafted and arranged in a way that strikes at the very heart of your emotions. Or maybe you think of the poets themselves - the romantic figures with their quills and inkwells, scribbling away in candlelit rooms.
But what about the role of the poet in society? What responsibilities do they have to their readers, to their country, and to the world at large? These are the questions that William Butler Yeats addresses in his essay, "Poetry, A Model For The Laureate."
Yeats begins by explaining the concept of the laureate - a title given to a poet who is appointed by the government to write poems for special occasions. In Yeats' time, the position of Poet Laureate was held by Alfred Lord Tennyson, who wrote poems to celebrate events such as Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. But Yeats argues that the laureate should be more than just a hired wordsmith - they should be a true poet who uses their verse to shape the hearts and minds of their nation.
He writes, "The laureate should not be a courtier, but a poet; he should not write occasional verse, but occasional poetry." In other words, the laureate should not simply churn out rhyming couplets on demand - they should use their talent to address the issues of the day in a way that is beautiful, powerful, and meaningful.
For Yeats, this means that the laureate must be deeply connected to their craft. They must be able to tap into the universal truths that underpin all great poetry - the themes of love, death, and the human condition. And they must be willing to take risks, to challenge the status quo, and to speak truth to power.
But what does this look like in practice? Yeats gives us some examples from history - the great poets who used their art to inspire and mobilize their people. He cites the example of Percy Bysshe Shelley, who wrote "The Mask of Anarchy" in response to the Peterloo Massacre, a brutal crackdown on a peaceful protest in Manchester, England. Shelley's poem urged the people to rise up against tyranny, and it became a rallying cry for the reform movement of the time.
Yeats also points to the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats himself, who used his verse to explore the complex history and mythology of Ireland, and to inspire his fellow citizens to fight for independence. Yeats writes, "The poetry of the Irish revolution was not written by the men who done the shooting, but by a man who sat in a library five hundred miles away." In other words, it was the power of Yeats' words that helped to shape the national consciousness and inspire the rebellion.
So what can we learn from Yeats' essay? For one, we can see that poetry is not just a form of entertainment or decoration - it is a powerful tool for social and political change. And we can also see that the role of the poet is not just to write pretty words, but to use their talent to shape the world around them.
But perhaps the most important lesson is the one that Yeats himself embodies - the idea that poetry is not just an abstract art form, but a deeply personal and emotional one. Yeats writes, "Poetry is not the expression of the personality, but an escape from personality." In other words, poetry allows us to transcend our individual selves and touch something universal and timeless.
This is perhaps the true power of poetry - the ability to connect us to something greater than ourselves. And it is this power that makes Yeats' essay so compelling and relevant today, as we grapple with the complex and urgent issues of our own time. Whether we are fighting for justice, peace, or simply for the beauty of the world, we can look to poetry as a model for how to engage with the world and make our voices heard.
So let us take up Yeats' challenge - let us be not just courtiers, but poets. Let us use our talent to address the issues of our time in a way that is beautiful, powerful, and meaningful. And let us remember the words of another great poet, Maya Angelou, who said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." With poetry, we have the power to make people feel, and to change the world.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry A Model For The Laureate: An Analysis
William Butler Yeats, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, wrote an essay titled "Poetry A Model For The Laureate" in 1935. In this essay, Yeats discusses the role of the poet laureate and the importance of poetry in society. Yeats argues that the poet laureate should be a model for other poets and that poetry should be a reflection of the culture and values of society. This essay is a fascinating insight into Yeats' thoughts on poetry and its role in society.
Yeats begins his essay by discussing the history of the poet laureate. He notes that the position has existed in England since the 17th century and that it was originally created to honor poets who wrote in praise of the monarch. However, Yeats argues that the role of the poet laureate has changed over time and that it should now be seen as a model for other poets.
Yeats believes that the poet laureate should be a role model for other poets. He argues that the poet laureate should be someone who is respected by other poets and who sets an example for them to follow. Yeats writes, "The poet laureate should be a man who has won the respect of his fellow poets, and whose work is a model for them to follow." Yeats believes that the poet laureate should be someone who is not only a great poet but also a great person.
Yeats also believes that poetry should be a reflection of the culture and values of society. He argues that poetry should not be written for its own sake but should be written to reflect the values and beliefs of society. Yeats writes, "The poet laureate should be a man who is in touch with the life of his time, and whose work reflects the values and beliefs of his society." Yeats believes that poetry should be a mirror of society and that it should reflect the hopes, fears, and aspirations of the people.
Yeats also discusses the importance of tradition in poetry. He argues that poetry should be rooted in tradition and that poets should be aware of the history of poetry. Yeats writes, "The poet laureate should be a man who is aware of the tradition of poetry, and who is able to draw on that tradition in his work." Yeats believes that poets should be aware of the poets who came before them and should be able to draw on their work for inspiration.
Yeats also discusses the importance of language in poetry. He argues that poetry should be written in a language that is accessible to the people. Yeats writes, "The poet laureate should be a man who writes in a language that is accessible to the people, and whose work can be understood by all." Yeats believes that poetry should not be written in a language that is only understood by a select few but should be written in a language that is accessible to everyone.
Yeats also discusses the importance of emotion in poetry. He argues that poetry should be written with emotion and that it should be able to move people. Yeats writes, "The poet laureate should be a man who is able to move people with his poetry, and whose work is filled with emotion." Yeats believes that poetry should not be dry and academic but should be able to touch people's hearts.
In conclusion, William Butler Yeats' essay "Poetry A Model For The Laureate" is a fascinating insight into his thoughts on poetry and its role in society. Yeats argues that the poet laureate should be a model for other poets and that poetry should be a reflection of the culture and values of society. He believes that poetry should be rooted in tradition, written in a language that is accessible to everyone, and filled with emotion. Yeats' essay is a reminder of the importance of poetry and its ability to touch people's hearts.
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