Thursday 1 November 2012

Day 132: Wild Swans

Melancholy is a word often associated with poetry. A beautiful kind of sadness that attends some poems.
Like here in this poem by Yeats, where he laments growing old and disconsolate, comparing himself to the lone swan, without a partner (nine-and-fifty swans), being as he was a victim of unrequited love for most of his life.
But Yeats manages to transform his sorrow into something beautiful. Just look at the language: 'Under the October twilight the water/mirrors a still sky,' 'the bell-beat of their wings,' 'lover by lover,/ they paddle in the cold/ companianable streams.'

The Wild Swans at Coole - WB Yeats

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear what you think! To leave a comment - comment as/sign in with your Google ID if you have one, or website or blog address, or if these don't apply, sign in as Anonymous, and leave your name if you like!