'After Long Silence' by William Butler Yeats

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Speech after long silence; it is right,
All other lovers being estranged or dead,
Unfriendly lamplight hid under its shade,
The curtains drawn upon unfriendly night,
That we descant and yet again descant
Upon the supreme theme of Art and Song:
Bodily decrepitude is wisdom; young
We loved each other and were ignorant.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, After Long Silence by William Butler Yeats: A Masterpiece of Expression and Emotion

Have you ever read a poem that left you spellbound, that transported you to another world, that spoke to the deepest parts of your soul? That's exactly what William Butler Yeats' "Poetry, After Long Silence" does. Written in 1917, this poem is a masterpiece of expression and emotion. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore the themes, imagery, and language used by Yeats to convey his message.


The theme of "Poetry, After Long Silence" is the transformative power of art. Yeats laments the decline of poetry in his time and longs for the return of the great poets of the past. He sees poetry as a means of connecting with the divine, of transcending the mundane and elevating the human spirit. The poem is a celebration of the creative impulse and a call to artists everywhere to reclaim their place in society.


The imagery in "Poetry, After Long Silence" is rich and evocative. Yeats uses a variety of metaphors and symbols to convey his message. The poem opens with the image of a bird that has been trapped in a cage and is now set free. This symbolizes the liberation of the creative impulse that has been stifled for too long. Yeats then moves on to describe the landscape, which is barren and desolate. This symbolizes the emptiness that has been left behind by the absence of great poetry.

The image of the "ragged claws" that "scuttle across the floors of silent seas" is a powerful one. This is a reference to T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," which was published a few years prior to "Poetry, After Long Silence." The image of the claws represents the chaos and disorder that has taken over in the absence of great poetry.


The language used by Yeats in "Poetry, After Long Silence" is both lyrical and powerful. The poem is written in free verse, which allows Yeats to experiment with the form and structure of the poem. The language is rich and evocative, with a powerful use of metaphor and symbolism. Yeats' use of repetition is also noteworthy. The repeated use of the phrase "after long silence" emphasizes the importance of the creative impulse that has been dormant for too long.


In conclusion, "Poetry, After Long Silence" is a powerful and evocative poem that speaks to the transformative power of art. Yeats' use of imagery and language is masterful, and the poem has a timeless quality that makes it as relevant today as it was when it was first written. As I read this poem, I am reminded of the importance of art in our lives and the need for artists to continue to create and inspire. "Poetry, After Long Silence" is a masterpiece of expression and emotion, and it has left me spellbound.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry After Long Silence: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, wrote the poem "Poetry After Long Silence" in 1919. This poem is a masterpiece that reflects Yeats' thoughts on the role of poetry in society and the importance of artistic expression. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and literary devices used in this poem to understand its significance.


The central theme of "Poetry After Long Silence" is the importance of artistic expression. Yeats believed that poetry was a powerful tool for communicating ideas and emotions. He felt that poetry had the ability to transcend time and space, and that it could connect people across cultures and generations. In the poem, Yeats writes, "The living beauty / Is born anew in all its mystery / Whenever the beauty of a woman's body / Illuminates our clay." Here, Yeats is suggesting that the beauty of art is eternal, and that it can be experienced by anyone, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Another theme in the poem is the idea of transformation. Yeats believed that art had the power to transform both the artist and the audience. He writes, "We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, / But of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." Here, Yeats is suggesting that poetry is a way of exploring one's inner self and transforming one's emotions into something beautiful.


"Poetry After Long Silence" is a free-verse poem that consists of four stanzas. The poem does not follow a strict rhyme scheme or meter, which gives it a sense of spontaneity and freedom. The first stanza sets the tone for the poem and introduces the central theme of artistic expression. The second stanza explores the idea of transformation, while the third stanza reflects on the power of memory. The final stanza brings the poem to a close and emphasizes the importance of poetry in society.

Literary Devices

Yeats uses a variety of literary devices in "Poetry After Long Silence" to convey his message. One of the most prominent devices is imagery. Yeats uses vivid descriptions to create a sense of beauty and mystery. For example, he writes, "The light of evening, Lissadell, / Great windows open to the south, / Two girls in silk kimonos, both / Beautiful, one a gazelle." Here, Yeats is using imagery to create a sense of nostalgia and longing.

Another literary device used in the poem is metaphor. Yeats uses metaphor to compare poetry to other forms of expression. For example, he writes, "We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, / But of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." Here, Yeats is using metaphor to suggest that poetry is a more personal and introspective form of expression than rhetoric.


"Poetry After Long Silence" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that reflects Yeats' beliefs about the importance of artistic expression. Through vivid imagery, metaphor, and free verse, Yeats conveys his message about the transformative power of poetry. This poem is a testament to the enduring legacy of Yeats' work and his contribution to the world of literature.

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