'Consolation' by William Butler Yeats
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O but there is wisdom
In what the sages said;
But stretch that body for a while
And lay down that head
Till I have told the sages
Where man is comforted.
How could passion run so deep
Had I never thought
That the crime of being born
Blackens all our lot?
But where the crime's committed
The crime can be forgot.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Consolation by William Butler Yeats
Oh, what a beautiful poem! Have you ever read Consolation by William Butler Yeats? If you haven't, then you're missing out on something truly special. I mean, this poem is a masterpiece, pure and simple. It's one of those rare pieces of literature that can touch your soul, make you feel something deep and meaningful.
Consolation is a poem that explores the theme of loss and grief. It is written in the form of a dialogue between the speaker and a young woman, who has lost her lover. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of the speaker's attempt to console the young woman.
The poem begins with the speaker acknowledging the young woman's grief. He tells her that he understands how she feels and that he too has experienced loss. He then goes on to reassure her that her lover is not truly gone, that he is still present in some form.
"All, all alone
Alone on a wide, wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony."
These lines set the tone for the rest of the poem. The young woman is alone and in agony, and the speaker is trying to offer her some comfort. He then goes on to suggest that there is more to life than what we can see and touch. He tells the young woman that her lover is still present in the natural world, in the wind, the sea, and the stars.
"He came among the people, but
There was naught He could say;
And so He went away again,
And He's been alone ever since that day.
I heard the old, old men say,
'All that's beautiful drifts away
Like the waters.'"
This is a powerful image, one that suggests that even though we may lose the things we love, they are still present in some form. The speaker is trying to offer the young woman some hope, some consolation, in the face of her grief.
In the second stanza, the speaker continues to explore the theme of loss. He tells the young woman that everything in life is temporary, that even the things we love must eventually pass away. He then goes on to suggest that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
"Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world."
These lines are particularly poignant. The speaker is suggesting that the young woman's grief is a testament to the love she shared with her lover. He is telling her that it is better to have loved deeply and lost than never to have loved at all. This is a powerful message, one that is still relevant today.
The third stanza explores the theme of time. The speaker tells the young woman that time is a great healer, that eventually, her grief will pass. He then goes on to suggest that the young woman should take comfort in the fact that her lover is now at peace.
"And therefore I have sailed the seas
And come To the holy city of Byzantium.
O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity."
The imagery in these lines is stunning. The speaker is suggesting that the young woman should take comfort in the fact that her lover is now at peace, that he has moved on to a better place. The use of the word "artifice" is particularly interesting, as it suggests that there is something constructed, something artificial, about the natural world.
The final stanza brings the poem full-circle. The speaker returns to the theme of the natural world, suggesting once again that everything in life is temporary. He tells the young woman that she should take comfort in the fact that her lover is still present in some form, even though he is no longer with her.
"When bronze and stone
Are what you loved,
Woodpeckers on a forest-bough
Or if you should see
The wind petting the hair
Of the women about you,
Or when small clouds gather and rest
On the tops of the hills
And when the sunset
Is blood-red and deep;
Or when the moon pits deep
Into the sky
And the night is silent
Between two trumpet blasts,
Then--in the wheel where all
The dead spokes rest--
Love can tip the balance
In any direction it wants
And give to every kiss
A killing exigency."
These lines are a powerful conclusion to the poem. The speaker is suggesting that love is a force that transcends time and space, that even though our loved ones may be gone, they are still present in some form. The use of the word "exigency" is particularly interesting, as it suggests that love has a sense of urgency, that it is something that must be experienced fully and completely.
In conclusion, Consolation is a beautiful poem that explores the theme of loss and grief. It is a powerful reminder that even though we may lose the things we love, they are still present in some form. The poem is a testament to the power of love, to its ability to transcend time and space. It is a work of art that can touch your soul, make you feel something deep and meaningful. If you haven't read it, then you're missing out on something truly special.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, and his poem "Consolation" is a classic example of his mastery of the craft. This poem is a beautiful meditation on the nature of love, loss, and the human condition, and it has resonated with readers for generations.
The poem begins with the speaker addressing his beloved, who has passed away. He tells her that he has found consolation in the fact that she is now a part of the natural world, and that her spirit lives on in the beauty of the earth. He speaks of the flowers and the trees, the birds and the bees, and how they all remind him of her.
The speaker then turns his attention to the stars, and he marvels at their beauty and their mystery. He sees them as a symbol of the infinite, and he finds comfort in the fact that his beloved is now a part of that infinite universe. He speaks of how the stars are like "the eyes of God," and how they watch over us all.
The poem then takes a darker turn, as the speaker acknowledges the pain and the sorrow that he feels at the loss of his beloved. He speaks of how he has cried and mourned, and how he has felt lost and alone. But even in the midst of his grief, he finds solace in the fact that his beloved is now at peace, and that she is no longer suffering.
The final stanza of the poem is a beautiful expression of the speaker's love for his beloved, and his acceptance of her passing. He speaks of how he will always remember her, and how he will carry her memory with him always. He tells her that he loves her, and that he will always be grateful for the time that they had together.
Overall, "Consolation" is a powerful and moving poem that speaks to the universal human experience of love and loss. Yeats' use of language is masterful, and his imagery is both beautiful and haunting. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the deepest emotions of the human heart, and it is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope and beauty to be found in the world around us.
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