September 11, 2008

A Little Yeats

. . . for obvious reasons:

Easter 1916

I

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

II

That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse.
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vain-glorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

III

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter, seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute change.
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim;
And a horse plashes within it
Where long-legged moor-hens dive
And hens to moor-cocks call.
Minute by minute they live:
The stone's in the midst of all.

IV

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death.
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead.
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse—
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.


Posted by Attila Girl at September 11, 2008 03:57 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Wouldn't this be a better time to catch up on "Burn Notice" or "Deadwood" rather than experience someone else's pain/hurt/slight/anger/remorse vicariously?
Or reorganize your closet, even?

Posted by: Darrell at September 11, 2008 09:21 PM


It was my statement about 9/11; best I could do, what with yesterday being a big deadline.

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 12, 2008 11:52 AM


I must admit I did not make that connection. I was looking at other clues, ones related to your current state of mind/mood.

My apologies. Some people need diagrams and schematics.

Posted by: Darrell at September 12, 2008 02:43 PM


;)

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 12, 2008 02:52 PM


isn't the poem in praise, albeit mournful praise, of the IRA and its courageous dead?

Posted by: rin at September 13, 2008 11:31 AM


It's strong emotion recollected in tranquility.

"Time that, with this strange excuse,
Pardoned Kipling, and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardons him for writing well."

Not that Paul Claudel needed pardoning, in retrospect. Which is surely why Auden later excised those two stanzas from his poem.

And yet, the point remains.

I quoted the Yeats poem because my feelings about anything remotely smacking of nationalism are so mixed; hence, "terrible."

And yet my feelings about what the American experiment--and its sister experiments, other democracies--can accomplish, at its best, are so fierce, and so positive. Thus, "beauty."

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 13, 2008 05:07 PM




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