That the night come By W.B.Yeats

 

 

She lived in storm and strife,
Her soul had such desire
For what proud death may bring
That it could not endure
The common good of life,
But lived as ’twere a king
That packed his marriage day
With banneret and pennon,
Trumpet and kettledrum,
And the outrageous cannon,
To bundle time away
That the night come.

An inevitable comparison of the poem is with the so called metaphysical poetry of John Donne and his school where the treatment of a metaphor is almost similar. The similes there compare a concrete thing with an abstract one or an abstract one with another abstract one..

Here an abstract idea of a soul with a desire for what death may bring is compared to another abstract idea of a king who packed his marriage day with a lot of pomp and sound.She lived in storm and strife and her soul is filled with a desire for what proud death may bring with the result she could not endure the common good of life. Just like the king who filled his marriage day with a lot of sound and fury ,signifying nothing. That included the outrageous cannon.

Why does she do this,neglecting the common good of life? Just to bundle time away/ that the night come.

Interesting words/usages are “proud death”(remember ,death be not proud!), “storm and strife” (storm is external,strife internal), “endure” (surprising usage, not in the sense of put up with but to go through (dure) the experience without its affecting us),“the common good of life” (one does not endure the common good of life but here one merely goes through it-the common good is what others perceive as good),”packed” (the king filled his marriage day with a lot of sound and fury), “the outrageous cannon” (outrageous because the marriage day is celebrated as if it was the marriage ceremony celebrated with music and fireworks-imagine an old king doing this),“bundle time away “ (an exquisite image within the image-In death one gathers up time in a bundle and puts it away preparing for the night’s coming)

“Sailing to Byzantium” by W.B.Yeats

I
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.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.

II
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

III
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.

IV
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

The poet uses powerful visual and auditory imagery to convey the timelessness of art in a natural world which is subject to decay.

Broadly the imagery used revolves around :

The birds image -Birds in the first stanza represent the dying generations viz.the natural world .They are also the “fowl” “caught in that sensuous music” of life.In the second stanza the image of the “perne in a gyre” is taken from falconry -an extension of the bird image.In the third stanza the bird becomes a golden bird set upon a golden bough singing to keep the drowsy emperor awake .The transformation is from the singing bird of the dying generations in the first stanza to the artifice of the golden bird which is timeless art against the dying bird of the natural world.

The music image- in the first stanza the music is of the natural world which sings of “whatever is begotten,born and dies” and “fish,flesh or fowl”are “caught” in that sensuous music .In the second stanza “An aged man is but a paltry thing/A tattered coat upon a stick unless/ Soul clap its hands and sing and louder sing “.Here music is soul-uplifting ,immortalising human existence through art .In the third stanza the music takes the form of the golden bird singing to the Lords and Ladies of Byzantium /Of what is past ,or passing or to come”

The old age or dying image- the most powerful metaphor used in the second stanza is that of a scarecrow.(A tattered coat upon a stick) .The comic absurdity of an old man’s existence is poignantly brought out in the image. The redeeming quality of art raises the human existence from its absudity to immortality. The scarecrow image has another connotation -the scarecow scares away the dying generations of the young world caught up in the sensuous music of the natural world.There is another minor image of the same connotation in the third stanza -that of the soul being “fastened to a dying animal”

“The second coming” by W.B.Yeats

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.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at laSt,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

People have interpreted the poem in different ways ,trying to understand the basic theme .Despite the difficulty in putting together what Yeats would possibly have meant, the poem continues to be popular among scholars as well as ordinary folk.That Yeats is talking about the Messiah coming out of the chaos in order to straighten it out is fairly clear but the confusion is why the Second Coming refers to the beast from the sandy desert and if it represents evil why it is moving towards Bethlehem .The lines are very epigrammatic: “The best lack all conviction; the worst are full of passionate intensity”. It is as though Yeats has predicted the wave of terrorism that has drowned the sanity of the present world. Yeats had a deep interest in Hinduism which is what seems to account for the belief that whenever there is chaos thee will emerge a Messiah out of the disorder. The Gita says that whenever the world is weighed down by the burden of mankind’s sins God will take a human form and appear to set the world in order.