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Sailing To Byzantium

William Butler Yeats

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Added by: Chad
Yeat’s Sailing to Byzantium
In the poem, Yeats contrasts death and life, and nature with art. The man in the poem wants to be remembered, and in order for that to happen he wants to be made a statue. Or a in the poems case, more specifically a golden bird that will sing on a golden bough. But realistically he will die an unremembered man who will forever be forgotten.
Added by: Ryan
Looks like a freshman was bitter about having to read some poetry. Chad has missed some of the finer points, glossing over poetry analysis by mentioning briefly a contrast between life and death, art and nature.

There are actually two ways to read this poem. It could be considered a desire for spiritual transcendence from the hedonistic country which focusses on the "sensual". Because his body is weak, he cannot belong in a world of such vitality. It must be his spirit that sustains him, "clap its hands and sing, and louder sing/For every tatter in its mortal dress."

Death is involved, of course, but the comparison between death and life is not important. He wishes to transcend his physical body, the "dying animal" and become an immortal spirit. The last stanza gives the most trouble for the spiritual interpretation. It would appear that Yeats would play the poet in heaven as well, "To keep a drowsy emperor awake."

The other interpretation, which might not be entirely seperate from the first, is that Yeats desires to transcend poetically, to write a poem of such perfection that it embodies his spirit, to live on forever as an "artifice". As a golder bird. This is metaphorical. he doesn't really want to be a statue (Chad), but rather an undying piece of art. Compare his golden bird, singing timelessly, to the "birds in the trees/--Those dying generations--" from the first stanza. Its a desire to create perfect poetry, an expression of his soul so flawless that it is the embodiment of his soul.

If he's doomed to be forgotten, why did YOU read him.
Added by: Helen
In this poem Yeats is expressing a desire to be remembered and to be remebered by the use of art. I disagree with the comment that he has been forgotten, he lives on in his poetry. his desire to be remembered is fulfilled by many of his poems, for example, Beautiful Lofty Things and Amoung School Children where, in order to really understand the poem, it is necessary to know about Yeat's past and background.

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