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A Woman Young And Old Analysis



Author: Poetry of William Butler Yeats Type: Poetry Views: 1512

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I

FATHER AND CHILD

SHE hears me strike the board and say

That she is under ban

Of all good men and women,

Being mentioned with a man

That has the worst of all bad names;

And thereupon replies

That his hair is beautiful,

Cold as the March wind his eyes.



II

BEFORE THE WORLD WAS MADE



IF I make the lashes dark

And the eyes more bright

And the lips more scarlet,

Or ask if all be right

From mirror after mirror,

No vanity's displayed:

I'm looking for the face I had

Before the world was made.

What if I look upon a man

As though on my beloved,

And my blood be cold the while

And my heart unmoved?

Why should he think me cruel

Or that he is betrayed?

I'd have him love the thing that was

Before the world was made.



III

A FIRST CONFESSION



I ADMIT the briar

Entangled in my hair

Did not injure me;

My blenching and trembling,

Nothing but dissembling,

Nothing but coquetry.

I long for truth, and yet

I cannot stay from that

My better self disowns,

For a man's attention

Brings such satisfaction

To the craving in my bones.

Brightness that I pull back

From the Zodiac,

Why those questioning eyes

That are fixed upon me?

What can they do but shun me

If empty night replies?



IV

HER TRIUMPH



I DID the dragon's will until you came

Because I had fancied love a casual

Improvisation, or a settled game

That followed if I let the kerchief fall:

Those deeds were best that gave the minute wings

And heavenly music if they gave it wit;

And then you stood among the dragon-rings.

I mocked, being crazy, but you mastered it

And broke the chain and set my ankles free,

Saint George or else a pagan Perseus;

And now we stare astonished at the sea,

And a miraculous strange bird shrieks at us.



V



CONSOLATION



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.



VI

CHOSEN



THE lot of love is chosen.I learnt that much

Struggling for an image on the track

Of the whirling Zodiac.

Scarce did he my body touch,

Scarce sank he from the west

Or found a subtetranean rest

On the maternal midnight of my breast

Before I had marked him on his northern way,

And seemed to stand although in bed I lay.

I struggled with the horror of daybreak,

I chose it for my lot! If questioned on

My utmost pleasure with a man

By some new-married bride, I take

That stillness for a theme

Where his heart my heart did seem

And both adrift on the miraculous stream

Where -- wrote a learned astrologer --

The Zodiac is changed into a sphere.



VII

PARTING

i{He.} Dear, I must be gone

While night Shuts the eyes

Of the household spies;

That song announces dawn.

i{She.} No, night's bird and love's

Bids all true lovers rest,

While his loud song reproves

The murderous stealth of day.

i{He.} Daylight already flies

From mountain crest to crest

i{She.} That light is from the moom.

i{He.} That bird...

i{She.} Let him sing on,

I offer to love's play

My dark declivities.



VIII

HER VISION IN THE WOOD



DRY timber under that rich foliage,

At wine-dark midnight in the sacred wood,

Too old for a man's love I stood in rage

Imagining men.Imagining that I could

A greater with a lesser pang assuage

Or but to find if withered vein ran blood,

I tore my body that its wine might cover

Whatever could rccall the lip of lover.

And after that I held my fingers up,

Stared at the wine-dark nail, or dark that ran

Down every withered finger from the top;

But the dark changed to red, and torches shone,

And deafening music shook the leaves; a troop

Shouldered a litter with a wounded man,

Or smote upon the string and to the sound

Sang of the beast that gave the fatal wound.

All stately women moving to a song

With loosened hair or foreheads grief-distraught,

It seemed a Quattrocento painter's throng,

A thoughtless image of Mantegna's thought --

Why should they think that are for ever young?

Till suddenly in grief's contagion caught,

I stared upon his blood-bedabbled breast

And sang my malediction with the rest.

That thing all blood and mire, that beast-torn wreck,

Half turned and fixed a glazing eye on mine,

And, though love's bitter-sweet had all come back,

Those bodies from a picture or a coin

Nor saw my body fall nor heard it shriek,

Nor knew, drunken with singing as with wine,

That they had brought no fabulous symbol there

But my heart's victim and its torturer.



IX

A LAST CONFESSION



WHAT lively lad most pleasured me

Of all that with me lay?

I answer that I gave my soul

And loved in misery,

But had great pleasure with a lad

That I loved bodily.

Flinging from his arms I laughed

To think his passion such

He fancied that I gave a soul

Did but our bodies touch,

And laughed upon his breast to think

Beast gave beast as much.

I gave what other women gave

"That stepped out of their clothes.

But when this soul, its body off,

Naked to naked goes,

He it has found shall find therein

What none other knows,

And give his own and take his own

And rule in his own right;

And though it loved in misery

Close and cling so tight,

There's not a bird of day that dare

Extinguish that delight.



X

MEETING



HIDDEN by old age awhile

In masker's cloak and hood,

Each hating what the other loved,

Face to face we stood:

"That I have met with such,' said he,

"Bodes me little good.'

"Let others boast their fill,' said I,

"But never dare to boast

That such as I had such a man

For lover in the past;

Say that of living men I hate

Such a man the most.'

'A loony'd boast of such a love,'

He in his rage declared:

But such as he for such as me --

Could we both discard

This beggarly habiliment --

Had found a sweeter word.



XI

FROM THE 'ANTIGONE'



OVERCOME -- O bitter sweetness,

Inhabitant of the soft cheek of a girl --

The rich man and his affairs,

The fat flocks and the fields' fatness,

Mariners, rough harvesters;

Overcome Gods upon Parnassus;

Overcome the Empyrean; hurl

Heaven and Earth out of their places,

That in the Same calamity

Brother and brother, friend and friend,

Family and family,

City and city may contend,

By that great glory driven wild.

Pray I will and sing I must,

And yet I weep -- Oedipus' child

Descends into the loveless dust.










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