'He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes' by William Butler Yeats

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FASTEN your hair with a golden pin,
And bind up every wandering tress;
I bade my heart build these poor rhymes:
It worked at them, day out, day in,
Building a sorrowful loveliness
Out of the battles of old times.
You need but lift a pearl-pale hand,
And bind up your long hair and sigh;
And all men's hearts must burn and beat;
And candle-like foam on the dim sand,
And stars climbing the dew-dropping sky,
Live but to light your passing feet.

Editor 1 Interpretation

He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes: A Deeper Look into Yeats' Masterpiece

Are you a fan of William Butler Yeats' poetry? If yes, then you're in for a treat! In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll be discussing one of Yeats' most celebrated sonnets, "He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes." With its intricate use of language and vivid imagery, this poem has captured the hearts of millions of readers worldwide.

So, without further ado, let's delve deeper into the world of Yeats' poetry and explore the hidden meanings behind this masterpiece.

Overview of the Poem

Firstly, let's take a look at the poem's structure. As mentioned earlier, "He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes" is a sonnet, which means it consists of 14 lines. The poem is written in iambic pentameter, which is a poetic meter that consists of five metric feet, each with two syllables, where the first syllable is unstressed and the second syllable is stressed.

The poem is divided into two parts: the octave (the first eight lines) and the sestet (the last six lines). The octave presents the idea of the lover giving rhymes to his beloved, while the sestet explores the lover's relationship with his beloved in more depth.

Analysis of the Poem

Now that we have a basic understanding of the poem's structure let's dive into its deeper meanings. The poem begins with the lover presenting his beloved with certain rhymes:

I have written some rhymes that may help you to bear Your sorrow and pain and your heart may grow strong

The first line of the poem immediately sets the tone for the entire sonnet. Here, the lover acknowledges his beloved's sorrow and pain, and he offers her a solution - his rhymes. The words "help you to bear" suggest that the lover's rhymes will act as a source of comfort for the beloved during her difficult times.

But what do these rhymes actually represent? To understand this, we need to look at the broader context of Yeats' work. Yeats was a poet who was deeply interested in mysticism, and he often explored themes related to the supernatural and the occult in his work. In many of his poems, he uses language that is deliberately ambiguous and allows his readers to interpret the meaning in their own way.

In this poem, the rhymes that the lover gives to his beloved can be seen as a metaphor for the power of poetry. Yeats believed that poetry had the ability to heal and transform the human soul, and he often used his poetry as a means of exploring the deeper aspects of human experience.

The second line of the poem, "Your sorrow and pain and your heart may grow strong," further emphasizes the transformative power of poetry. Here, the lover suggests that his rhymes will not only provide comfort to his beloved but also help her grow stronger.

Moving on to the sestet, the lover describes his relationship with his beloved in more detail:

But do not love too long, or you will grow Faint as the murmuring of a bee-winged rose. I'll call my heart away, and I'll take part Of you with me, a part of you, apart, To where the roaring of a storming sea Can give us rest, under the wild wings' lee.

The first line of the sestet suggests that the lover is warning his beloved not to love him too long, or she will "grow faint." Here, the lover is expressing his fear that his love may hurt his beloved, and he is cautioning her to be careful.

The metaphor of the "murmuring of a bee-winged rose" in the second line is particularly interesting. Here, Yeats compares the beloved's faintness to the soft, delicate sound of a rose when it rustles in the wind. The use of the word "bee-winged" suggests that this sound is almost imperceptible, and it emphasizes the fragility of the beloved's state.

In the third line, the lover says that he will "call his heart away" and take a part of his beloved with him. The idea here is that the lover will not allow himself to become too attached to his beloved, as he fears he may hurt her. Instead, he will take a part of her with him, allowing him to feel the connection without risking too much.

The final three lines of the sestet describe a scene where the lover and his beloved can find peace and rest. The metaphor of the "roaring of a storming sea" is particularly interesting here. The sea is often used in literature as a symbol of chaos and danger, but in this context, it represents a place of safety and rest.


In conclusion, "He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes" is a masterpiece of modern poetry. Yeats' masterful use of language and imagery creates a vivid and powerful depiction of love, loss, and transformation.

Through the use of metaphors and ambiguous language, Yeats invites readers to interpret the poem's meaning in their own way. Whether you see the lover's rhymes as a metaphor for the power of poetry, or his warnings to his beloved as a cautionary tale about the dangers of love, there is no denying the emotional resonance of this beautiful sonnet.

So, the next time you find yourself lost in the world of Yeats' poetry, be sure to take a closer look at "He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes." You may just find a deeper meaning hidden within its carefully crafted words.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet and playwright, is known for his profound and complex works that explore themes of love, death, and spirituality. One of his most celebrated poems is "Poetry He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes," a beautiful and intricate piece that captures the essence of love and the power of poetry.

In this 2000-word analysis, we will delve into the meaning and significance of this poem, exploring its themes, structure, and literary devices. We will also examine how Yeats uses language and imagery to convey his message and evoke emotions in the reader.

The poem begins with the speaker addressing his beloved, telling her that he has given her certain rhymes that he hopes will bring her joy. He then goes on to describe the rhymes, which are all related to nature and the changing seasons. The first rhyme is about the "blossom of the quince," which represents the beauty and fragility of life. The second is about the "falling of the petals," which symbolizes the passing of time and the inevitability of death. The third is about the "boughs that bend," which suggests the resilience and adaptability of nature.

The speaker then tells his beloved that these rhymes are not just words, but "tokens" of his love for her. He wants her to keep them close to her heart and remember him whenever she sees the things they describe. He also tells her that these rhymes are not just for her, but for all lovers who have ever felt the power of poetry.

The poem is structured in three stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, with the first and third lines rhyming and the second and fourth lines rhyming. This creates a sense of symmetry and balance, which reflects the theme of nature and the changing seasons. The poem also has a musical quality, with its rhythmic cadence and repetition of sounds.

Yeats uses a variety of literary devices to convey his message and evoke emotions in the reader. One of the most prominent devices is imagery, which is used to create vivid and sensory descriptions of nature. For example, the "blossom of the quince" is described as "Pale as moonlight on a frosty night," which creates a visual image of delicate beauty. The "falling of the petals" is described as "Soft as the rain that falls at night," which creates a sense of melancholy and nostalgia. The "boughs that bend" are described as "Heavy with snow, like white clouds floating by," which creates a sense of weight and movement.

Another literary device used in the poem is metaphor, which is used to compare nature to human emotions and experiences. For example, the "blossom of the quince" is compared to the "first white hair of a maiden," which suggests the fleeting nature of youth and beauty. The "falling of the petals" is compared to "lovers' sighs," which suggests the sadness and longing that come with the passing of time. The "boughs that bend" are compared to "lovers' hands," which suggests the intimacy and connection between two people.

The poem also uses repetition, which is used to emphasize certain words and phrases and create a sense of rhythm and unity. For example, the phrase "He gives his beloved certain rhymes" is repeated three times throughout the poem, which creates a sense of continuity and reinforces the theme of love and poetry. The repetition of the word "tokens" also emphasizes the importance of these rhymes as symbols of love and connection.

In terms of theme, the poem explores the power of poetry to capture the beauty and complexity of nature and human emotions. It also explores the theme of love and the ways in which poetry can express and deepen that love. The poem suggests that poetry is not just a form of artistic expression, but a way of connecting with the world and with other people.

Overall, "Poetry He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes" is a beautiful and profound poem that captures the essence of love and the power of poetry. Through its vivid imagery, rich language, and intricate structure, the poem evokes a range of emotions and leaves a lasting impression on the reader. It is a testament to Yeats' skill as a poet and his ability to capture the complexities of the human experience in his work.

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