'High Talk' by William Butler Yeats
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PROCESSIONS that lack high stilts have nothing that
catches the eye.
What if my great-granddad had a pair that were
twenty foot high,
And mine were but fifteen foot, no modern Stalks
Some rogue of the world stole them to patch up a fence
or a fire.
Because piebald ponies, led bears, caged lions, ake
but poor shows,
Because children demand Daddy-long-legs upon This
Because women in the upper storeys demand a face at
That patching old heels they may shriek, I take to
chisel and plane.
Malachi Stilt-Jack am I, whatever I learned has run wild,
From collar to collar, from stilt to stilt, from father to child.
All metaphor, Malachi, stilts and all.A barnacle goose
Far up in the stretches of night; night splits and the
dawn breaks loose;
I, through the terrible novelty of light, stalk on, stalk on;
Those great sea-horses bare their teeth and laugh at the dawn.
Editor 1 Interpretation
High Talk by William Butler Yeats: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century. His works are known for their profound use of imagery, symbolism and metaphor. "High Talk" is a poem that embodies Yeats' style of writing, focusing on the theme of transformation through language. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore the meaning behind Yeats' "High Talk", and how it represents a form of transformation through language.
Overview of High Talk
"High Talk" is a poem that consists of three stanzas with six lines in each. The poem is written in free verse, with no fixed rhyme scheme or meter. The title of the poem refers to the elevated language used by the Irish aristocracy, which was often seen as a form of sophistication and social status. However, Yeats uses the term "high talk" in a different sense, as a form of language that can transform the speaker and the listener.
Analysis of High Talk
The first stanza of "High Talk" begins with the speaker addressing the "wandering scholars" who "knock at every door". The speaker refers to the scholars as "wild geese", emphasizing their nomadic nature. The use of the wild geese metaphor also suggests their freedom and independence.
The second line of the first stanza introduces the theme of transformation through language. The speaker says, "You that have wandered far, what came ye seeking?" This line implies that the scholars are seeking something that can only be found through travel and experience. The use of the word "seeking" also implies a sense of purpose, suggesting that the scholars are searching for something greater than themselves.
The second stanza of "High Talk" continues the theme of transformation through language. The speaker describes the power of language to evoke certain emotions and feelings. The line "Bid me discourse, and I will enchant thine ear" suggests that the speaker has the ability to transport the listener to another world through language.
The third stanza of "High Talk" is the most complex, as it introduces a shift in tone and theme. The speaker addresses the "sages", who are presumably wise individuals. The speaker asks the sages to share their wisdom and knowledge, saying "Speak and tell us what ye know". However, the sages respond by saying "We know what the caged bird feels". This line introduces the theme of oppression and confinement, which is a departure from the earlier theme of transformation through language.
Interpretation of High Talk
"High Talk" can be interpreted as a poem that explores the transformative power of language. The wandering scholars represent individuals who are seeking something greater than themselves, and language is the tool they use to achieve this. The speaker emphasizes the importance of language in evoking certain emotions and feelings, suggesting that it has the power to transform the listener.
However, the third stanza introduces a shift in tone and theme, suggesting that language is not always enough to effect change. The sages' response suggests that even the wisest individuals can still feel oppressed and confined. This line can be interpreted as a commentary on the limitations of language, and how it can sometimes fail to truly capture the human experience.
Overall, "High Talk" is a poem that explores the transformative power of language, while also acknowledging its limitations. The use of the wild geese metaphor and the theme of transformation through language make this poem a quintessential example of Yeats' style of writing.
In conclusion, "High Talk" is a poem that embodies the best aspects of Yeats' writing. It is a poem that explores the transformative power of language, while also acknowledging its limitations. The use of metaphor and symbolism, along with the free verse style, make this poem a work of art that is both thought-provoking and beautiful.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry High Talk: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, wrote a masterpiece called Poetry High Talk. This poem is a perfect example of Yeats' ability to blend the mystical and the mundane, the ancient and the modern, and the personal and the universal. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in this poem and how they contribute to its overall meaning.
The poem begins with the speaker addressing a group of young poets who are eager to learn the secrets of great poetry. The speaker tells them that they must learn to "speak the speech of the common man" if they want to be successful poets. This is a common theme in Yeats' poetry, as he believed that poetry should be accessible to everyone, not just the elite.
The speaker then goes on to describe the different types of poetry that exist, from the "low" poetry of the common people to the "high" poetry of the aristocracy. He tells the young poets that they must learn to blend these two types of poetry in order to create something truly great. This is a theme that runs throughout the poem, as Yeats believed that poetry should be a fusion of the old and the new, the traditional and the modern.
The imagery used in the poem is also significant. The speaker describes the "low" poetry of the common people as being like "a bird that sings on the bough." This image suggests that this type of poetry is natural and unpretentious, like the song of a bird. The "high" poetry of the aristocracy, on the other hand, is described as being like "a bird that soars in the sky." This image suggests that this type of poetry is lofty and grand, like a bird in flight.
The speaker then goes on to describe the different types of poets that exist. He tells the young poets that there are those who are "born to the purple," meaning they are born into the aristocracy and have a natural talent for poetry. He also tells them that there are those who are "self-made," meaning they come from humble beginnings but have worked hard to become great poets. This is another theme that runs throughout the poem, as Yeats believed that anyone could become a great poet if they had the talent and the dedication.
The language used in the poem is also significant. The speaker uses a mixture of formal and informal language, which reflects the theme of blending the old and the new. He also uses a lot of metaphors and similes, which help to create vivid images in the reader's mind. For example, he describes the "low" poetry of the common people as being like "a wild rose that blooms in the hedgerow." This image suggests that this type of poetry is natural and unspoiled, like a wildflower.
The speaker then goes on to describe the different types of subjects that poets can write about. He tells the young poets that they can write about anything, from the beauty of nature to the struggles of the human condition. He also tells them that they must be true to themselves and their own experiences if they want to create great poetry. This is another theme that runs throughout the poem, as Yeats believed that poetry should be personal and authentic.
The final stanza of the poem is particularly powerful. The speaker tells the young poets that they must be willing to take risks and be bold in their writing. He tells them that they must be willing to "climb the highest mountain" and "swim the deepest sea" if they want to create something truly great. This image suggests that great poetry requires courage and determination, as well as talent and dedication.
In conclusion, Poetry High Talk is a masterpiece of modern poetry. It blends the mystical and the mundane, the ancient and the modern, and the personal and the universal. The themes, imagery, and language used in the poem all contribute to its overall meaning, which is that great poetry requires a fusion of the old and the new, the traditional and the modern. It also requires talent, dedication, and the courage to take risks and be bold in one's writing. This is a message that is as relevant today as it was when Yeats wrote this poem over a century ago.
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