'On A Picture Of A Black Centaur By Edmund Dulac' by William Butler Yeats
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YOUR hooves have stamped at the black margin of the wood,
Even where horrible green parrots call and swing.
My works are all stamped down into the sultry mud.
I knew that horse-play, knew it for a murderous thing.
What wholesome sun has ripened is wholesome food to eat,
And that alone; yet I, being driven half insane
Because of some green wing, gathered old mummy wheat
In the mad abstract dark and ground it grain by grain
And after baked it slowly in an oven; but now
I bring full-flavoured wine out of a barrel found
Where seven Ephesian topers slept and never knew
When Alexander's empire passed, they slept so sound.
Stretch out your limbs and sleep a long Saturnian sleep;
I have loved you better than my soul for all my words,
And there is none so fit to keep a watch and keep
Unwearied eyes upon those horrible green birds.
Editor 1 Interpretation
On A Picture Of A Black Centaur By Edmund Dulac: A Critique
William Butler Yeats’ poem, On A Picture Of A Black Centaur By Edmund Dulac, is a piece of literary work that is both intriguing and thought-provoking. It delves into the Greek mythology of the centaur, while drawing on Yeats’ own beliefs and perceptions of the world. The poem is a beautiful tribute to the art of Edmund Dulac, known for his stunning illustrations and paintings. In this piece, we will delve into the meaning and themes behind this poem and take a closer look at Yeats’ interpretation of the black centaur.
Edmund Dulac was a French-born British magazine illustrator, book illustrator, and stamp designer. His illustrations were known for their intricate details and vivid colors, with themes ranging from fairy tales to mythology. In 1912, he illustrated a book called Stories from The Arabian Nights, which became an instant classic. Dulac’s illustrations were highly sought after, and his work was published in numerous magazines and books.
It was during this time that Yeats was inspired to write On A Picture Of A Black Centaur By Edmund Dulac. The poem was first published in 1913 in the book Responsibilities and Other Poems. Yeats was known for his love of mythology and symbolism, and he saw in Dulac’s illustration of the centaur, a symbol of the conflict between man’s animalistic and rational nature.
The poem begins with Yeats describing the black centaur that he sees in Dulac’s painting. The centaur is depicted as a powerful and majestic creature, with a “great tail” and “flaming nostrils”. The black color of the centaur is symbolic of its otherness, its being different from the norm, and its wild and untamed nature.
Yeats is drawn to the centaur’s beauty, but he is also aware of its darker side. He senses that the centaur is a creature of conflict, a symbol of the struggle between man’s rational and animalistic nature. Yeats writes, “He seems to be of the opinion that the rational is all wrong, / That the irrational is the better part, / And that the image of God is a foolish thought”.
Yeats’ interpretation of the black centaur reflects his own beliefs about the world. He was a mystic, and he believed that the physical world was a reflection of a higher spiritual reality. He saw in the black centaur a symbol of the conflict between the physical and spiritual realms.
In the second stanza, Yeats continues to delve into the meaning of the black centaur. He writes, “He sees that the eagle of Zeus is perched / On his strong wrist, and that the startled doves / Fly from the gold-haired” (ll. 7-9). Here, Yeats is drawing on the imagery of Greek mythology, where the eagle is a symbol of Zeus, the king of the gods. The doves represent peace and tranquility, and their flight from the gold-haired centaur symbolizes the struggle between reason and instinct.
Yeats then writes, “The goddess on the pedestal / Of ivory, inlaid with gold, / Watches the drama in the Central Park” (ll. 10-12). The goddess on the pedestal is a reference to the Greek goddess Athena, who was associated with wisdom, courage, and reason. The image of her watching the drama in Central Park is a commentary on the conflict between the rational and irrational that is taking place in the modern world.
Yeats ends the poem with a powerful statement: “And is this the dreamer of dreams? / And is this the man of the crowd?” (ll. 13-14). Here, he is questioning whether the black centaur is a dreamer, a visionary, or merely a symbol of the masses. He is asking whether the struggle between reason and instinct is a personal one or a societal one.
The themes that are explored in On A Picture Of A Black Centaur By Edmund Dulac are many and varied. At its core, the poem is a commentary on the conflict between reason and instinct, between the physical and spiritual realms, and between the individual and the collective. It is a reflection on the human condition and the struggle to find balance and harmony in a world that is often chaotic and unpredictable.
The black centaur is symbolic of the otherness that is inherent in all of us. We are all a mixture of reason and instinct, of the physical and spiritual realms. The struggle to find balance is a universal one, and it is something that we all must face.
On A Picture Of A Black Centaur By Edmund Dulac is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that delves into the human condition. Yeats’ interpretation of the black centaur is a powerful symbol of the conflict between reason and instinct, and it is a testament to his belief in the mystical and symbolic nature of the world. The poem is a tribute to the art of Edmund Dulac, and it is a reflection on the power of art to inspire and evoke emotion.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry On A Picture Of A Black Centaur By Edmund Dulac: A Masterpiece of Symbolism and Mythology
William Butler Yeats, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, wrote a poem titled "Poetry on a Picture of a Black Centaur" in response to a painting by the renowned artist Edmund Dulac. The poem is a masterpiece of symbolism and mythology, exploring themes of beauty, desire, and the power of the imagination. In this analysis, we will delve into the meaning behind Yeats' words and the significance of Dulac's painting.
The poem begins with the speaker describing the painting of the black centaur, which is "half angel and half bird." The centaur is a mythical creature that is half-human and half-horse, and in this painting, it is depicted as having wings like a bird. The combination of these two creatures creates a sense of otherworldliness and magic, which is further emphasized by the centaur's black color. Black is often associated with mystery and the unknown, and in this context, it adds to the sense of the supernatural.
The speaker then goes on to describe the beauty of the centaur, saying that it is "more beautiful than any woman." This line is significant because it suggests that the centaur represents an ideal of beauty that transcends gender. The speaker is not saying that the centaur is more beautiful than any man, but rather that it is more beautiful than any woman. This suggests that the centaur represents a kind of beauty that is beyond the limitations of gender and is therefore more universal.
The speaker then goes on to describe the desire that the centaur inspires in him, saying that he wants to "ride on its back." This desire is significant because it suggests that the centaur represents a kind of freedom and escape from the mundane world. The speaker wants to leave behind the constraints of his everyday life and experience the magic and wonder of the centaur's world.
The poem then takes a darker turn, with the speaker describing the centaur's "wild eyes" and the "fierce flames" that surround it. This suggests that the centaur is not just a symbol of beauty and freedom, but also of danger and destruction. The speaker is drawn to the centaur's power and intensity, but he is also aware of the potential for harm.
The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most significant, as it reveals the true meaning behind the centaur and the painting. The speaker says that the centaur is "the image of myself," suggesting that the centaur represents the speaker's own desires and aspirations. The speaker sees himself in the centaur, and in doing so, he recognizes the power of his own imagination and creativity.
The poem ends with the speaker saying that he will "follow where it leads." This suggests that the speaker is willing to embrace his own desires and follow his own path, even if it leads him into the unknown. The centaur represents a kind of freedom and possibility that the speaker is willing to pursue, even if it means leaving behind the safety and security of the familiar.
In conclusion, "Poetry on a Picture of a Black Centaur" is a masterpiece of symbolism and mythology that explores themes of beauty, desire, and the power of the imagination. The painting by Edmund Dulac and the poem by William Butler Yeats work together to create a sense of otherworldliness and magic that is both beautiful and dangerous. The centaur represents an ideal of beauty that transcends gender, a kind of freedom and escape from the mundane world, and a recognition of the power of the imagination. The poem is a testament to the power of art to inspire and transform, and it remains a classic of modern poetry.
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