Tuesday, March 13, 2007

From William Butler Yeats's Vacillation (Commonplace Book)

These lines capture a feeling I get occasionally, and I am sure everyone gets. Next time you are in this mood you can remember these lines; I like particularly the way he is in a good mood for no reason, just sitting down somewhere, and he specifies the short time the mood lasts for (the word "blessed" should be pronounced with two syllables):

My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table top.

While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.


Roger said...

so, do you feel like a fifty year old man? ;)

Geoff Klock said...

yeah, I knew someone was going to say that, and I posted anyway.

falconer said...

wow. great poem! i just memorized the opening of "the second coming," but it is so gloomy! is there more feel-good WBY like this one?

Roger said...

I really like the dialogues of self and soul, but I always suspect that I don't like Yeats as much as I'm supposed to.

oh, and i LOVE the anecdote of Joyce meeting Yeats. The former declared "I can't do anything for you now. You're too old."


Geoff Klock said...

falconer -- don't avoid poetry that looks gloomy -- some of that stuff is the most fun and ironically the most uplifting (because it is so well written it puts you in a good mood).

Roger: I agree, and that IS a great story. I am not sure if it is true though. I actually cannot remember if it is true.

Geoff Klock said...

Roger: I think I remembered that story wrong as a TS Eliot Joyce conversation.

Anonymous said...

This poem is an account of quest and failure; he ultimately trips over a conflict that is apparent only, not real. The human personality ticks away all the better for Enlightenment; it is certainly not doomed thereafter to view the world indifferently over the top of a coffee-cup, with nothing to do, care or write about.

Not to trivialise the attempt - still a great poem!