'Crazy Jane Reproved' by William Butler Yeats

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I care not what the sailors say:
All those dreadful thunder-stones,
All that storm that blots the day
Can but show that Heaven yawns;
Great Europa played the fool
That changed a lover for a bull.
Fol de rol, fol de rol.

To round that shell's elaborate whorl,
Adorning every secret track
With the delicate mother-of-pearl,
Made the joints of Heaven crack:
So never hang your heart upon
A roaring, ranting journeyman.
Fol de rol, fol de rol.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Crazy Jane Reproved by William Butler Yeats: A Critical Analysis

William Butler Yeats' poem "Crazy Jane Reproved" is a short, powerful work that explores the themes of love, desire, and the human condition. At just 12 lines in length, the poem is a testament to Yeats' skill as a poet and his ability to convey complex emotions and ideas in a concise and impactful way. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the various themes and literary devices used in "Crazy Jane Reproved," and examine how they contribute to the overall meaning of the poem.

Overview of "Crazy Jane Reproved"

Before delving into the themes and literary devices used in the poem, it's important to first provide a brief overview of "Crazy Jane Reproved." The poem is written from the perspective of a speaker who is reproving Crazy Jane, a character who appears in several of Yeats' works. Here are the poem's 12 lines:

Love is like the lion's tooth.

—When naked it will frighten you.

But if you use a ragged cloth

And wrap it up, you'll find it's fair.

—And so it is with me, your lover,

And so it will be when I am old.

The child that's got strong arms to keep

Out bad dreams shall make a man asleep.

—Run, dear, run,

—My little, white one,

And don't look back.

Theme of Love

The theme of love is central to "Crazy Jane Reproved." Yeats presents a complex view of love, one that involves both fear and desire. The poem begins with the comparison of love to a lion's tooth, an image that is both beautiful and frightening. The speaker goes on to say that if you wrap the lion's tooth in a ragged cloth, it becomes fair. This is a metaphor for how love can be tamed and made less frightening if it is approached with care and tenderness.

Yeats' portrayal of love in "Crazy Jane Reproved" is not a simple one. It is not just a matter of two people coming together and living happily ever after. Instead, love is something that requires work and effort, something that can be both beautiful and terrifying. The poem suggests that love is worth pursuing, but that it must be approached with care and caution.

Literary Devices Used in "Crazy Jane Reproved"

Yeats employs several literary devices in "Crazy Jane Reproved" to convey his ideas about love and the human condition. These include:


The metaphor of the lion's tooth is used throughout the poem to symbolize love. The image of the lion's tooth is powerful and evocative, and it effectively conveys the idea that love can be both beautiful and dangerous.


The repetition of the phrase "And so it is with me, your lover, / And so it will be when I am old" creates a sense of continuity and connection between the speaker and Crazy Jane. It suggests that their love is timeless, and that it will endure even as they age and change.


The imagery used in the poem is vivid and evocative. The image of the child with strong arms keeping out bad dreams is particularly striking. It suggests that love can protect us from the darkness and fear that lurk within our own minds.


In conclusion, "Crazy Jane Reproved" is a powerful poem that explores the complex nature of love and desire. Yeats uses a variety of literary devices to convey his message, including metaphor, repetition, and imagery. The poem suggests that love can be both beautiful and terrifying, and that it requires work and effort to be truly fulfilling. Despite its brevity, "Crazy Jane Reproved" is a masterful work of poetry that continues to resonate with readers today.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Crazy Jane Reproved: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet, playwright, and Nobel laureate, is known for his profound and complex works that explore the themes of love, death, spirituality, and Irish mythology. One of his most celebrated poems, "Crazy Jane Reproved," is a powerful and poignant piece that delves into the nature of love, desire, and the human condition. In this essay, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its themes, imagery, and language.

The poem is part of Yeats' "Crazy Jane" series, which features a character named Jane, who is often portrayed as a madwoman or a prophetess. In "Crazy Jane Reproved," Jane is reprimanded by a bishop for her unconventional views on love and sexuality. The poem is structured in six stanzas, each consisting of four lines, with a rhyme scheme of ABAB.

The first stanza sets the tone for the poem, with the bishop admonishing Jane for her "loose talk" and "wild ways." He tells her that she should be ashamed of herself and that she is a disgrace to her sex. However, Jane is not intimidated by the bishop's words and responds with a defiant and witty retort: "You are old and grey and full of sleep / And you have no more right to control me / Than the wind that blows or the rain that falls / Or the light that shines on the sea."

This stanza establishes the conflict between Jane and the bishop, as well as the theme of freedom and individuality. Jane refuses to be controlled or silenced by the bishop, asserting her right to express herself and follow her own desires. The imagery of the wind, rain, and light emphasizes the natural and elemental forces that are beyond human control, suggesting that Jane's passion and vitality are as natural and essential as the elements themselves.

The second stanza continues the theme of freedom and individuality, as Jane declares that she will not be bound by the conventions of society or religion. She says that she will "dance on the mountains like a flame" and "sing on the winds like a bird." This imagery of dancing and singing suggests a joyful and uninhibited expression of life, in contrast to the bishop's stern and repressive attitude.

The third stanza introduces the theme of love, as Jane describes her lover as a "wild young man" who is "more than any words." She says that he is "like a flame / Where heart and brain are one." This imagery of fire and unity suggests a passionate and intense love that transcends words and reason. The use of the word "wild" also connects Jane's love to her own wildness and freedom, suggesting that her love is a reflection of her own nature.

The fourth stanza deepens the theme of love, as Jane describes her lover's body in sensual and vivid terms. She says that his "body is a honeycomb / And he a drone." This imagery of sweetness and fertility suggests a sexual and sensual connection between Jane and her lover, as well as a sense of abundance and richness. The use of the word "drone" also suggests a sense of purpose and dedication, as if Jane's lover is devoted to her and their love.

The fifth stanza returns to the conflict between Jane and the bishop, as Jane challenges the bishop's authority and morality. She says that the bishop is "a fool to make such a strife" and that he should "let a young woman pass / With an honest song and a well-worn cloak." This imagery of a young woman with a well-worn cloak suggests a humble and authentic expression of life, in contrast to the bishop's pompous and judgmental attitude.

The final stanza concludes the poem with a powerful and defiant statement from Jane. She says that she will "have my sleep and my freedom / And my lover in the bed / Till the morning comes with its new-born light / And the bishop with his men." This imagery of sleep, freedom, and love suggests a sense of fulfillment and contentment, as if Jane has found her true self and her true love. The use of the word "men" also suggests a sense of patriarchy and hierarchy, as if the bishop and his followers represent a rigid and oppressive system that Jane has rejected.

In conclusion, "Crazy Jane Reproved" is a masterpiece of poetry that explores the themes of freedom, individuality, love, and sexuality with profound insight and beauty. Yeats' use of vivid imagery, powerful language, and complex symbolism creates a rich and evocative portrait of a woman who refuses to be silenced or controlled by the conventions of society or religion. Through Jane's voice, Yeats celebrates the power and beauty of the human spirit, as well as the wildness and passion that are essential to our nature.

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