'Coole Park And Ballylee, 1931' by William Butler Yeats

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I MEDITATE upon a swallow's flight,
Upon a aged woman and her house,
A sycamore and lime-tree lost in night
Although that western cloud is luminous,
Great works constructed there in nature's spite
For scholars and for poets after us,
Thoughts long knitted into a single thought,
A dance-like glory that those walls begot.
There Hyde before he had beaten into prose
That noble blade the Muses buckled on,
There one that ruffled in a manly pose
For all his timid heart, there that slow man,
That meditative man, John Synge, and those
Impetuous men, Shawe-Taylor and Hugh Lane,
Found pride established in humility,
A scene well Set and excellent company.
They came like swallows and like swallows went,
And yet a woman's powerful character
Could keep a Swallow to its first intent;
And half a dozen in formation there,
That seemed to whirl upon a compass-point,
Found certainty upon the dreaming air,
The intellectual sweetness of those lines
That cut through time or cross it withershins.
Here, traveller, scholar, poet, take your stand
When all those rooms and passages are gone,
When nettles wave upon a shapeless mound
And saplings root among the broken stone,
And dedicate -- eyes bent upon the ground,
Back turned upon the brightness of the sun
And all the sensuality of the shade --
A moment's memory to that laurelled head.
UNDER my window-ledge the waters race,
Otters below and moor-hens on the top,
Run for a mile undimmed in Heaven's face
Then darkening through "dark' Raftery's "cellar' drop,
Run underground, rise in a rocky place
In Coole demesne, and there to finish up
Spread to a lake and drop into a hole.
What's water but the generated soul?
Upon the border of that lake's a wood
Now all dry sticks under a wintry sun,
And in a copse of beeches there I stood,
For Nature's pulled her tragic buskin on
And all the rant's a mirror of my mood:
At sudden thunder of the mounting swan
I turned about and looked where branches break
The glittering reaches of the flooded lake.
Another emblem there! That stormy white
But seems a concentration of the sky;
And, like the soul, it sails into the sight
And in the morning's gone, no man knows why;
And is so lovely that it sets to right
What knowledge or its lack had set awry,
So atrogantly pure, a child might think
It can be murdered with a spot of ink.
Sound of a stick upon the floor, a sound
From somebody that toils from chair to chair;
Beloved books that famous hands have bound,
Old marble heads, old pictures everywhere;
Great rooms where travelled men and children found
Content or joy; a last inheritor
Where none has reigned that lacked a name and fame
Or out of folly into folly came.
A spot whereon the founders lived and died
Seemed once more dear than life; ancestral trees,
Or gardens rich in memory glorified
Marriages, alliances and families,
And every bride's ambition satisfied.
Where fashion or mere fantasy decrees
We shift about -- all that great glory spent --
Like some poor Arab tribesman and his tent.
We were the last romantics -- chose for theme
Traditional sanctity and loveliness;
Whatever's written in what poets name
The book of the people; whatever most can bless
The mind of man or elevate a rhyme;
But all is changed, that high horse riderless,
Though mounted in that saddle Homer rode
Where the swan drifts upon a darkening flood.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Coole Park And Ballylee, 1931: An Exploration of Immortality and Nostalgia

William Butler Yeats, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, wrote "Coole Park And Ballylee, 1931" as a tribute to Lady Gregory, his friend and patron, who had passed away a year earlier. The poem is a reflection on Yeats' visits to Coole Park, Lady Gregory's estate, and Ballylee, his own home, both of which were significant places in his life. It is a powerful exploration of themes like immortality, nostalgia, and the passage of time.

The poem opens with Yeats recalling his first visit to Coole Park in the 1890s, when he was a young man. He describes the beauty of the place, with its "woods, waters, and the deepened air", and the sense of wonder it instilled in him. This sense of wonder, he says, has stayed with him all these years, despite the fact that he is now a middle-aged man. Here, Yeats is exploring the idea of immortality - not in the sense of physical immortality, but in the sense that certain experiences can stay with us forever, and become part of our identity.

As the poem progresses, Yeats turns his attention to Lady Gregory, whom he describes as "a great lady" who "had a heart/That nobleness made old-fashioned". He speaks of her love for Coole Park, and how she would "walk the roads/And gather the wind blown flakes of barley". Here, Yeats is highlighting Lady Gregory's connection to the land, and the simple pleasures she found in it. He is also expressing his admiration for her, and the way she lived her life.

The poem then moves on to Ballylee, which Yeats describes as "the castle of my pride". He speaks of how he "fashioned it/Seven years ago" and how it "faced all weathers". Ballylee, for Yeats, represents his own connection to the land, and his sense of ownership over it. He speaks of how it has "lain lonely", but how it still holds a special place in his heart.

As the poem draws to a close, Yeats reflects on the passage of time, and the way it has changed both Coole Park and Ballylee. He speaks of how Lady Gregory is now "gone", and how Coole Park has become "an old haunt of coot and hern". He also speaks of how Ballylee is now "choked with brush and fern", and how it is no longer the proud castle it once was.

Through these reflections on time and change, Yeats is exploring the theme of nostalgia - the idea that we can never go back to the past, and that the things we once cherished will inevitably fade away. However, in the final stanza of the poem, Yeats offers a glimmer of hope. He speaks of how the "wind blows out of the gates of the day", and how it "clears the morning mist". He suggests that even though things may change, there is always the possibility of renewal, of a new beginning.

In conclusion, "Coole Park And Ballylee, 1931" is a powerful exploration of themes like immortality, nostalgia, and the passage of time. Through his reflections on Lady Gregory, Coole Park, and Ballylee, Yeats offers a poignant meditation on the transience of life, but also a glimmer of hope for the future. It is a testament to Yeats' skill as a poet, and his ability to capture the complexity of human emotion and experience in his writing.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931 is a classic poem written by the renowned Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. The poem is a reflection of Yeats’ personal experiences and memories of Coole Park and Ballylee, two places that were significant to him. The poem is a beautiful tribute to the natural beauty of Ireland and the memories that it holds.

The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which describes a different aspect of Yeats’ memories of Coole Park and Ballylee. The first stanza describes the beauty of Coole Park, which was a nature reserve in County Galway, Ireland. Yeats describes the park as a place of “quietness and beauty” and “where all the ladders start”. The phrase “where all the ladders start” is a metaphor for the beginning of a journey, and in this case, it represents the beginning of Yeats’ journey as a poet.

The second stanza of the poem describes Ballylee, which was a castle that Yeats purchased in 1917. The castle was a place of solitude and inspiration for Yeats, and he spent many years there writing some of his most famous works. In the poem, Yeats describes the castle as a “murmur of maternal lamentation” and a “place of stone”. The phrase “murmur of maternal lamentation” is a metaphor for the sound of the river that flows near the castle, which is reminiscent of a mother’s lament for her lost child.

The third and final stanza of the poem describes Yeats’ memories of Coole Park and Ballylee. Yeats reflects on the fact that these places are now only memories, and that he can never return to them. He describes the memories as “a fire in the head” and “a flame that cannot be extinguished”. The phrase “a fire in the head” is a metaphor for the passion and inspiration that Yeats felt when he was at Coole Park and Ballylee.

The poem is a beautiful tribute to the natural beauty of Ireland and the memories that it holds. Yeats’ use of metaphors and imagery creates a vivid picture of Coole Park and Ballylee, and the emotions that they evoke in him. The poem is also a reflection of Yeats’ personal journey as a poet, and the role that these places played in his development as an artist.

Overall, Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931 is a beautiful and poignant poem that captures the essence of Ireland and the memories that it holds. Yeats’ use of language and imagery creates a vivid picture of these two places, and the emotions that they evoke in him. The poem is a testament to the power of nature and the role that it plays in inspiring creativity and passion.

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