Yeats’ Week – Sailing To Byzantium

We are more than our physical bodies. That is the heart of this poem.

We humans are indeed paltry things unless our souls clap their hands and sing!

And there are worse things than spending our afterlives as beautiful golden artifacts bringing joy and knowledge to others.

This poem is complex. ย It’s also fully capable of being enjoyed on an almost musical level.

And, really…

Everyone should know where the title of that movie comes from! ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Sailing To Byzantium

THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

17 thoughts on “Yeats’ Week – Sailing To Byzantium

  1. Once again you prove that WordPress needs to add a “Love this” button. You have the best manner of sharing poetry.

  2. is that mosaic in Haghia Sophia?

  3. jmgoyder says:

    I didn’t used to like Yeats but now I do!

  4. […] Yeats’ Week – Sailing To Byzantium ( […]

  5. shafiqah1 says:

    Reblogged this on shafiqah1 and commented:
    The Hagia Sophia (divine!), sighs… Yeats is a wise, wise, man. His images are stolen again and again, thinking of the film “No Country for Old Men” which I also love.

  6. Love this poem , huge fan of Yeats, an example of the poet saying everything and more than the rest of us could ever hope to express ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you!

    • You are very welcome!! I think I loved Yeats’ week more than any of my readers….. ๐Ÿ™‚
      There is a whole lot of bad, really terrible, terrible, unreadable poetry out there. Yeats and a few others redeem the art form!!

  7. […] Yeats’ Week – Sailing To Byzantium ( […]

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