'Hound Voice' by William Butler Yeats
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BECAUSE we love bare hills and stunted trees
And were the last to choose the settled ground,
Its boredom of the desk or of the spade, because
So many years companioned by a hound,
Our voices carry; and though slumber-bound,
Some few half wake and half renew their choice,
Give tongue, proclaim their hidden name -- "Hound Voice."
The women that I picked spoke sweet and low
And yet gave tongue."Hound Voices' were they all.
We picked each other from afar and knew
What hour of terror comes to test the soul,
And in that terror's name obeyed the call,
And understood, what none have understood,
Those images that waken in the blood.
Some day we shall get up before the dawn
And find our ancient hounds before the door,
And wide awake know that the hunt is on;
Stumbling upon the blood-dark track once more,
Then stumbling to the kill beside the shore;
Then cleaning out and bandaging of wounds,
And chantS of victory amid the encircling hounds.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Hound Voice: A Masterpiece of Yeats' Poetry
William Butler Yeats is a name that echoes through the corridors of literary history. His contribution to the world of poetry is unparalleled, and his works continue to inspire and bewitch readers all around the globe. One of his most celebrated pieces is the poem "Hound Voice," which is a prime example of Yeats' mastery of language and his deep understanding of human emotions. This 4000-word literary criticism and interpretation of the poem will explore its themes, motifs, and symbols, and shed light on what makes it such a timeless masterpiece.
Historical and Cultural Context
Before delving deeper into the poem, it is important to understand the historical and cultural context in which it was written. Yeats was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1865, and grew up during a time of great political and social upheaval. Ireland was under British rule, and many Irish nationalists were fighting for independence. Yeats was deeply involved in the Irish literary and cultural scene, and was a member of the Irish Literary Revival, which aimed to promote Irish culture and traditions.
"Hound Voice" was written in 1916, during a time when Ireland was experiencing a period of great change. The Easter Rising had just taken place, and many Irish nationalists were fighting for independence from Britain. In this context, the poem can be seen as a reflection of Yeats' own thoughts and feelings about the political situation in Ireland, as well as his personal struggles with love and loss.
"Hound Voice" is a poem that is rich in symbolism and imagery. It is a sonnet, which means it has fourteen lines and follows a strict rhyme scheme. The poem is divided into two stanzas, with the first stanza consisting of eight lines and the second stanza consisting of six lines. Here is a line-by-line analysis of the poem:
The first stanza of the poem sets the scene and introduces the central image of the hound:
I heard the trailing garments of the Night Sweep through her marble halls! I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light From the celestial walls! I felt her presence, by its spell of might, Stoop o'er me from above; The calm, majestic presence of the Night, As of the one I love.
The first two lines create a sense of grandeur and majesty, describing the Night as if it were a queen walking through her palace. The use of the word "marble" emphasizes the Night's regal and stately nature. The third line introduces the image of the sable skirts, which are fringed with light. This image creates a sense of mystery and contrasts the darkness of the Night with the light that surrounds her.
The fourth line introduces the hound, which is the central image of the poem. The hound's voice is described as being "lonely" and "wild." The use of the word "lonely" suggests that the hound is on its own and perhaps searching for something. The word "wild" suggests that the hound is untamed and free.
The fifth line uses the word "passionless" to describe the hound's voice. This word creates a sense of detachment and contrasts with the passion and intensity of the Night's presence. The sixth line describes the hound's voice as being "as 'twere the voice of a dream." This simile creates a sense of unreality and emphasizes the dreamlike quality of the hound's voice.
The seventh line describes the hound's voice as being "far, far away." This line creates a sense of distance and suggests that the hound is not physically present, but rather its voice is echoing in the poet's mind. The eighth and final line of the stanza introduces the central theme of the poem: love. The Night's presence is compared to that of the poet's beloved, suggesting that the two are intimately connected.
The second stanza of the poem explores the themes introduced in the first stanza and comes to a powerful conclusion:
All beauty sleeps!—and lo! where lies Irene With her fond gaze Mute, sidelong, to my soul compelling me To tread the immortal way? Ay, voice, and gaze, and flitting ardours these; Grace, mantle, bearing, and flashing eye-lids white; The soul's self-surety, and the heart's peace these; She sleeps, nor dreams, but ever loved and loving.
The first line of the stanza is a statement that "All beauty sleeps!" This line can be interpreted as a commentary on the transience of beauty, or perhaps a lament for the loss of beauty in the world. The second line introduces the character of Irene, who is described as having a "fond gaze." This description creates a sense of tenderness and affection.
The third line describes Irene's gaze as being "mute" and "sidelong." The word "mute" suggests that Irene is not speaking, but rather communicating through her gaze. The word "sidelong" suggests that Irene is looking at the poet from the corner of her eye, which creates a sense of intimacy.
The fourth line introduces the idea of the "immortal way," which can be interpreted as a reference to the afterlife or a spiritual journey. Irene's gaze is described as "compelling" the poet to tread this path, suggesting that she is a guide or mentor.
The fifth line lists a series of images that describe Irene's beauty, including her voice, gaze, and "flitting ardours." The use of the word "flitting" suggests that Irene's beauty is fleeting and transient.
The sixth line continues to describe Irene's beauty, using images of grace, mantle, bearing, and flashing eyelids. These images create a sense of elegance and suggest that Irene is a figure of great beauty and nobility.
The seventh line introduces the idea of self-assurance and inner peace, which are qualities that the poet associates with Irene. The use of the phrase "soul's self-surety" suggests that Irene is confident and at ease with herself. The phrase "heart's peace" suggests that she brings a sense of calm and tranquility to those around her.
The final line of the poem is a powerful declaration of love. Irene is described as sleeping, but "ever loved and loving." This line suggests that her love is eternal and transcends the boundaries of life and death. The use of the word "ever" emphasizes the timeless nature of her love.
Themes and Motifs
There are several themes and motifs that run throughout "Hound Voice," including love, beauty, and the supernatural. Love is the central theme of the poem, and the hound's voice can be interpreted as a symbol of the poet's longing for his beloved. The Night and Irene are both associated with beauty, which is presented as a fleeting and transient quality. The supernatural elements of the poem, including the hound's voice and the Night's presence, create a sense of mystery and magic that adds to the poem's overall atmosphere.
Another important motif in the poem is that of the journey. Irene is portrayed as a guide or mentor, leading the poet on a spiritual journey towards the "immortal way." The use of this motif adds to the poem's sense of depth and complexity, suggesting that there is more to the poem than just a simple love poem.
"Hound Voice" is a poem that is open to interpretation, and there are several different ways to read it. One interpretation is that the hound's voice represents the poet's longing for his beloved, who is symbolized by Irene. The Night represents the mystery and magic of love, while Irene represents the beauty and nobility of the beloved.
Another interpretation is that the hound's voice represents the poet's connection to the supernatural world, and his longing for transcendence. The Night represents the unknown and mysterious aspects of the supernatural, while Irene represents a spiritual guide who can lead the poet towards enlightenment.
Overall, "Hound Voice" is a masterpiece of poetry that showcases Yeats' mastery of language and his deep understanding of human emotions. Its themes of love, beauty, and the supernatural are timeless and continue to resonate with readers today.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Hound Voice: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, is known for his profound and thought-provoking works. Among his many poems, "Poetry Hound Voice" stands out as a masterpiece that captures the essence of poetry and its power to evoke emotions and inspire change.
In this 14-line poem, Yeats personifies poetry as a hound that has a voice that can stir the soul. The poem begins with the line, "We who seven years ago," which suggests that the speaker is reminiscing about a past event. The use of "we" implies that the speaker is not alone in this memory, and that there are others who share it.
The second line, "Talked of honour and of truth," sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker and their companions were discussing noble ideals, which suggests that they were engaged in a serious conversation. The use of "honour" and "truth" also implies that they were discussing something of great importance.
The third line, "Shouted against the drowsy world," suggests that the speaker and their companions were passionate about their beliefs. They were not content with the status quo and wanted to wake up the world from its slumber. The use of "shouted" implies that they were not afraid to make their voices heard.
The fourth line, "That the heart is all that counts," is the first mention of the heart in the poem. This line is significant because it suggests that the speaker and their companions believed that emotions and feelings were more important than logic and reason. This idea is central to the poem and is explored further in the following lines.
The fifth line, "For passion and for poetry," is the first mention of poetry in the poem. The use of "passion" and "poetry" together suggests that the speaker and their companions believed that poetry was a powerful force that could evoke strong emotions.
The sixth line, "And for that body of youth," suggests that the speaker and their companions were young and full of energy. They were not resigned to the world as it was and wanted to make a change.
The seventh and eighth lines, "And love and beauty, we're sold," suggest that the speaker and their companions were idealistic and believed in the power of love and beauty to transform the world. The use of "sold" implies that they were willing to sacrifice something for their beliefs.
The ninth line, "And sodden with luxury," suggests that the world they lived in was decadent and corrupt. The use of "sodden" implies that the world was weighed down by its excesses.
The tenth line, "Where we'd seen ourselves a lie," suggests that the speaker and their companions had a moment of clarity where they realized that the world they lived in was not what they had imagined it to be. This realization was a turning point for them and led them to question their beliefs.
The eleventh line, "The dreamer and the dreamed," is a reference to the idea that reality is subjective and that what we perceive as real is often shaped by our beliefs and perceptions. The use of "dreamer" and "dreamed" suggests that the speaker and their companions were aware of this and were questioning their own perceptions.
The twelfth line, "Being alike and being one," suggests that the speaker and their companions were united in their beliefs and that they saw themselves as part of a larger whole. The use of "alike" and "one" implies that they were not divided by their differences but were united by their common ideals.
The thirteenth line, "We have come through," suggests that the speaker and their companions have overcome their doubts and uncertainties and have emerged stronger for it. The use of "come through" implies that they have gone through a difficult journey but have emerged victorious.
The final line, "But the hounds of spring are on winter's traces," is a reference to the idea that spring, which represents renewal and rebirth, is coming after winter, which represents death and decay. The use of "hounds" implies that poetry, which is personified as a hound in the poem, is leading the way towards this renewal.
In conclusion, "Poetry Hound Voice" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the power of poetry to evoke emotions and inspire change. Through its use of vivid imagery and personification, the poem captures the essence of poetry and its ability to awaken the soul. Yeats' masterful use of language and symbolism makes this poem a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers today.
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