Sunday, 24 February 2008

Trying Yeats's shorts...

This morning on the local radio an actor was reading short extracts from the poetry of William Butler Yeats (albeit in the German language). Yeats's poetry appears to lend itself to being pulled apart. Rather like removing pieces one by one from a completed jigsaw if you like. The bits seem to increase in intensity and value when removed from the whole. You know how it is when you have a 2,000 piece jigsaw; how closely you must examine the pieces before you can figure out where they go. It's all a bit like that, only in reverse, examining the pieces and figuring out where they came from, or more to the point - what they are telling us.
Poet-in-Residence has the idea to engage here in a little selecting and sorting of various lines from Yates's poetry, searching for lines that have an almost haiku-like intensity. Lines that invite a little meditation.
And so, like the man in the cubicle, in the Bernhard comedy 'Claus Peymann buys trousers', P-i-R tries Yeats's shorts for size.

from The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

from Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

from The Song of Wandering Aengus

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

from The Lake Isle Of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

from A Dialogue of Self and Soul

I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!

from A Dialogue of Self and Soul

When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.

from When You Are Old

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

from The Circus Animals' Desertion

A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start,
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.

from Vacillation

No longer in Lethean foliage caught
Begin the preparation for your death
And from the fortieth winter by that thought
Test every work of intellect or faith,
And everything that your own hands have wrought,
And call those works extravagance of breath
That are not suited for such men as come
Proud, open-eyed and laughing to the tomb.


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