William Butler Yeats
The unpurged images of day recede;
The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed;
Night resonance recedes, night walkers' song
After great cathedral gong;
A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.
Before me floats an image, man or shade,
Shade more than man, more image than a shade;
For Hades' bobbin bound in mummy-cloth
May unwind the winding path;
A mouth that has no moisture and no breath
Breathless mouths may summon;
I hail the superhuman;
I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.
Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
More miracle than bird or handiwork,
Planted on the star-lit golden bough,
Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
In glory of changeless metal
Common bird or petal
And all complexities of mire or blood.
At midnight on the Emperor's pavement flit
Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,
Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,
Where blood-begotten spirits come
And all complexities of fury leave,
Dying into a dance,
An agony of trance,
An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.
Astraddle on the dolphin's mire and blood,
Spirit after Spirit! The smithies break the flood.
The golden smithies of the Emperor!
Marbles of the dancing floor
Break bitter furies of complexity,
Those images that yet
Fresh images beget,
That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.
2. I chose this poem, for a few reasons. First I was looking for a Pablo Neruda poem, but they all sounded better in Spanish and I didn't want to look around for the best translation of the poet so I scraped that idea. I also thought that it would be a waste to read something that I have already learned about so I went to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Her poems were great but there was this feeling of Shakespearean-ism to it and I'm not a huge fan of Shakespeare's sonnets so I gave up that idea and went onto Yeats. I have read a few of Yeats' poems so I decided he would be a perfect fit. Next, the first thing that drew me to this poem was the title. A poem written about an amazing Greek empire, what could be better. I love poems with allusions, as well, because I have this narcissistic feeling of knowledge and when I saw the references to Hades it kind of made my day. Finally, I liked the diction and assonance/diction of the poem in various places.
3. The title, as I mentioned above, was very attractive. I wouldn't have even bothered to look at the poem. The image and idea of Greece is present in this poem, so I think it overall does fit the title.
4. One of my favorite lines is "Night resonance recedes." The consonance of res and rec is really cool when you read it out loud. I also like the last line and the image of the "dolphin-torn, gong-tormented sea." It's sort of like an indirect way of looking at the battle of the seas. Words and short phrases are sort of the piece he tries to get us to look at, but reading a verse out loud together has a very lulling sound as well. He must read and write at the same time. The feeling of the poem overall is very set and very calming yet flowing and graceful.
5. The tone is very mechanical and straightforward. There is no rhyme scheme so to say but there are occasional blurbs of rhyming in a verse. The tone is very heroic. Throughout the poem makes me see Odysseus at the table of a grand hall eating meat, bread, and wine. The sound reminds me of sort of an ocean, benevolent and rocking and soothing and evil all at once. Like the Phoenicians and their supreme naval technology.