As the title of this short Yeats poem makes clear, the great Irish poet W. B. Yeats offers the would-be lover some advice: don’t dive headlong into love or infatuation, for your beloved won’t thank you for it: never give all the heart. It’s best to keep a little passion back: ‘He that made this knows all the cost, / For he gave all his heart and lost.’
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; Read the rest of this entry
‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats’ by W. H. Auden (1907-73) was written in 1939, following the death of the Irish poet W. B. Yeats in January of that year. As well as being an elegy for the dead poet, ‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats’ is also a meditation on the role and place of poetry in the modern world. What is poetry for? Can it make anything happen? Should it make anything happen? You can read ‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats’ here before proceeding to the analysis below.
‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats’ is in three parts, each of which has its own form and style.
PART I: In the first section, W. H. Auden discusses the death of W. B. Yeats ‘in the dead of winter’ (well, Yeats did die in January, after all), a time when the brooks were all frozen over and snow made it difficult to make out the public statues. Read the rest of this entry
‘Lapis Lazuli’ belongs to W. B. Yeats’s late phase, in the 1930s. Like a number of Yeats’s other late poems, it is concerned with the place and treatment of art in the modern world, a situation which Yeats considers by taking in all of history. The poem’s ‘argument’ takes a bit of unpicking; before we get to our analysis, here’s a reminder of this mysterious poem.
(for Harry Clifton)
I have heard that hysterical women say
They are sick of the palette and fiddle-bow,
Of poets that are always gay,
For everybody knows or else should know
That if nothing drastic is done
Aeroplane and Zeppelin will come out,
Pitch like King Billy bomb-balls in
Until the town lie beaten flat.
All perform their tragic play,
There struts Hamlet, there is Lear,
That’s Ophelia, that Cordelia;
Yet they, should the last scene be there,
The great stage curtain about to drop, Read the rest of this entry