Thursday, February 19, 2015

Yeats and Losing in Love


I'll admit that whenever I read Yeats' love poetry, I feel a deep injustice that Maude Gonne (and later her daughter Iseult) rejected his marriage proposal -- how could you not love someone who's that good a poet? It probably says a lot about me that I equate creative talent with worthiness in love. But in truth, poetry hasn't proven that effective in the pursuit of love, in my life or in Yeats'. Of his poem, "He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven," Yeats' said, "it's a perfect way to lose a lady." Perhaps, yes, but what beautiful way to go:

He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

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