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Cuchulain Comforted Analysis

Author: poem of William Butler Yeats Type: poem Views: 24

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A man that had six mortal wounds, a man

Violent and famous, strode among the dead;

Eyes stared out of the branches and were gone.

Then certain Shrouds that muttered head to head

Came and were gone.  He leant upon a tree

As though to meditate on wounds and blood.

A Shroud that seemed to have authority

Among those bird-like things came, and let fall

A bundle of linen.  Shrouds by two and thrce

Came creeping up because the man was still.

And thereupon that linen-carrier said:

'Your life can grow much sweeter if you will

'Obey our ancient rule and make a shroud;

Mainly because of what we only know

The rattle of those arms makes us afraid.

'We thread the needles' eyes, and all we do

All must together do.' That done, the man

Took up the nearest and began to sew.

'Now must we sing and sing the best we can,

But first you must be told our character:

Convicted cowards all, by kindred slain

'Or driven from home and left to dic in fear.'

They sang, but had nor human tunes nor words,

Though all was done in common as before;

They had changed their thtoats and had the throats of



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A powerful commentary on acceptance of death and of the way in which it both levels and elevates the meanings of individual lives. In the afterlife, the great hero Cuchulain finds himself reduced to sewing shrouds in common with convicted cowards. In previous works by Yeats, he has gradually understood the bitter truth that valuing his own power over human relationships has led to destroying his own son, and that the sacrifices of his neglected wife Emer are more noble than any of his bloody deeds. He also learns that every physical death involves the degrading of the flesh and betrayal by that which is mean-spirited in man (the Blind Man of \"The Death of Cuchulain\"). By sewing the shroud, he accepts the limitations of death, including the fact that he shares the same fate as the most degraded of men. But this acceptance ironically transforms them all into birdlike spirits who have thrown off the pains and limits of life.

| Posted on 2011-11-01 | by a guest

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