Tuesday 14 June 2016

Favourite snatches (20)

It's been a very long time - more than 18 months - since I last included a favourite snatch, so here  are two poems by Yeats (who was born yesterday, in 1865) that I particularly admire:

Crazy Jane Taks with the Bishop

I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.
'Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty.'

'Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul,' I cried.
'My friends are gone, but that's a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart's pride.

'A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.'

 'Love has pitched his mansion in / The place of excrement'.  What a couple of lines - practically a pitch for a Channel 4 reality show.

The second poem is as different as can be:

The Fascination of What’s Difficult

The fascination of what's difficult
Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent
Spontaneous joy and natural content
Out of my heart. There's something ails our colt
That must, as if it had not holy blood
Nor on Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud,
Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt
As though it dragged road metal. My curse on plays
That have to be set up in fifty ways,
On the day's war with every knave and dolt,
Theatre business, management of men.
I swear before the dawn comes round again
I'll find the stable and pull out the bolt.

Yeats is. I think, best read when one is young or no longer young. He's not a poet for all ages. I read very little of Yeats when I was younger and am catching up belatedly, and gratefully, now. He can be preposterous, but never dull or predictable.

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