Yeats

wbyeatsHaving just filled out my absentee ballot for the California Primary, I can’t stop thinking about this poem, especially the first stanza. This was written during the first world war, but seems so relevant today. Certainly the worst are full of passionate intensity. And the feeling of things falling apart is very present.

 

 

 

THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. Continue reading “Yeats”

Memorial Day

gregoryAn editorial in the paper reminded me that on Memorial Day we remember those who died in the war; on Veterans Day we remember the ones who returned. In either case, not just a day added to the weekend, but a day to reflect. Here is Yeats, reflecting on the death of Lady Gregory’s son, who died in 1918 in an air battle over Italy. My favorite line comes near the end: “What made us dream that he could comb grey hair?” Continue reading “Memorial Day”

Ekphrastics

No, they’re not acrostics–ekphrastics (sometimes spelled ecphrastics–but doesn’t it seem more Greek with the k?) are written descriptions of a graphic work of art. Perhaps the most famous ekphrastic poem is Auden’s “Musee des Beaux Arts,” about Breughel’s painting, The Fall of Icarus, in which you can just see his leg to the right of the boat as he falls into the water, but no one is paying particular attention:

Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
Continue reading “Ekphrastics”