Yeats Love Poetry changed significantly at the turn of the century.
Let us now see how Yeats Love Poetry developed in the harsh reality of rejection and the unfulfilled expectations of his passion for the rather insensitive Maud Gonne, the actresss and Irish revolutionary under whose thrall he was for much of his adulthood.
In 1903, shortly after she turned down his offer of marriage for the fourth time, Maud Gonne accepted anothers' hand in marriage.
Yeats state of mind was best left imagined. It did not take too long before he took solace by setting pen to paper.....
NO SECOND TROY
HY should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?
In truth, if we look closely at this example of Yeats Love Poetry, there is a tone of resignation that is evident.Her beauty which had tormented him without respite for so long is "like a tightened bow, a kind / That is not natural in an age like this, / Being high and solitary and most stern?"
Luckily for Yeats Love Poetry, sanity came in the distraction offered by other pursuits that ensured his genius was not consumed in the wake of the emotional upheaval caused by his rather unfeeling muse.
From then on Yeats Love poetry lost a great deal of its idealism, but gained in depth and maturity. His language eventually ascended to new heights, which gave birth to an acknowledgment of the greatness of Yeats Love Poetry by both critics and peers alike.
Before we chart this remarkable progress, let us see a few more Yeats Love Poetry from the volume of work titled "Wind Among The Reeds" which he published in 1899. The mood of Yeats Love Poetry had clearly started darkening during this period and presaged its latter output.
HE TELL OF A VALLEY FULL OF LOVERS
I dreamed that I stood in a valley, and amid sighs,
For happy lovers passed two by two where I stood;
And I dreamed my lost love came stealthily out of the wood
With her cloud-pale eyelids falling on dream-dimmed eyes:
I cried in my dream, O women, bid the young men lay
Their heads on your knees, and drown their eyes with your fair,
Or remembering hers they will find no other face fair
Till all the valleys of the world have been withered away.
HE WISHES HIS BELOVED WERE DEAD
Were you but lying cold and dead,
And lights were paling out of the West,
You would come hither, and bend your head,
And I would lay my head on your breast;
And you would murmur tender words,
Forgiving me, because you were dead:
Nor would you rise and hasten away,
Though you have the will of the wild birds,
But know your hair was bound and wound
About the stars and moon and sun:
O would, beloved, that you lay
Under the dock-leaves in the ground,
While lights were paling one by one.
The rather morbid title of this example of Yeats Love Poetry indicates the state of mind of the poet!
THE HEART OF THE WOMAN
O what to me the little room
That was brimmed up with prayer and rest;
He bade me out into the gloom,
And my breast lies upon his breast.
O what to me my mother's care,
The house where I was safe and warm;
The shadowy blossom of my hair
Will hide us from the bitter storm.
O hiding hair and dewy eyes,
I am no more with life and death,
My heart upon his warm heart lies,
My breath is mixed into his breath.
THE LOVER ASKS FORGIVENESS BECAUSE OF HIS MANY MOODS
If this importunate heart trouble your peace
With words lighter than air,
Or hopes that in mere hoping flicker and cease;
Crumple the rose in your hair;
And cover your lips with odorous twilight and say,
'O Hearts of wind-blown flame!
O Winds, older than changing of night and day,
That murmuring and longing came
From marble cities loud with tabors of old
In dove-grey faery lands;
From battle-banners, fold upon purple fold,
Queens wrought with glimmering hands;
That saw young Niamh hover with love-lorn face
Above the wandering tide;
And lingered in the hidden desolate place
Where the last Phoenix died,
And wrapped the flames above his holy head;
And still murmur and long:
O piteous Hearts, changing till change be dead
In a tumultuous song':
And cover the pale blossoms of your breast
With your dim heavy hair,
And trouble with a sigh for all things longing for rest
The odorous twilight there.
THE LOVER MOURNS FOR THE LOSS OF LOVE
Pale brows, still hands and dim hair,
I had a beautiful friend
And dreamed that the old despair
Would end in love in the end:
She looked in my heart one day
And saw your image was there;
She has gone weeping away.
THE LOVER TELLS OF THE ROSE IN HIS HEART
All things uncomely and broken, all things worn out and old,
The cry of a child by the roadway, the creak of a lumbering cart,
The heavy steps of the ploughman, splashing the wintry mould,
Are wronging your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.
The wrong of unshapely things is a wrong too great to be told;
I hunger to build them anew and sit on a green knoll apart,
With the earth and the sky and the water, re-made, like a casket of gold
For my dreams of your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.
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 .
The tone of carnality in this example of Yeats Love Poetry, is a rather marked departure from went on before. Here is another example of the darkening tone Yeats Love Poetry was embracing:
NEVER GIVE ALL THE HEART
Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that's lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
0 never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost..
Love can impart harsh lessons to the unwary. No where else is this more evident in Yeats Love Poetry, than in 'Never Give All The Heart'
WHEN YOU ARE OLD
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
AFTER LONG SILENCE
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.
O DO NOT LOVE TOO LONG
SWEETHEART, do not love too long:
I loved long and long,
And grew to be out of fashion
Like an old song.
All through the years of our youth
Neither could have known
Their own thought from the other's,
We were so much at one.
But O, in a minute she changed -
O do not love too long,
Or you will grow out of fashion
Like an old song.
"O Do Not Love..." is a sad reflection on Yeats Love Poetry of the unfortunate lessons in love experienced by the poet.
THE FOLLY OF BEING COMFORTED
One that is ever kind said yesterday:
`Your well-belovéd's hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience.'
Heart cries, `No,
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild summer was in her gaze.
O heart! O heart! If she'd but turn her head,
You'd know the folly of being comforted .
"The Folly..." is a good example of how Yeats Love Poetry had deepened and matured as he grew older.
This is a poem that has hidden messages that enthrall if you but exercise the necessary patience to delve further.
If you enjoyed these examples of Yeats Love Poetry and would like to see more,
Click here for early Yeats Love Poetry
Click here for further Yeats Love Poetry
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