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Eileen Clemens Granfors

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Always a Good Time for Yeats
By Eileen Clemens Granfors
Last edited: Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2014



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Eileen Clemens Granfors

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WB. Yeats, one of the 20th century's finest poets was also known for his eccentric views on religion and politics. I love this poem for how skillfully Yeats creates the nostalgia of years past and the arrival, once more, of autumn. And note the single swan while the others are paired.


W.B. Yeats (1865–1939).  The Wild Swans at Coole.  1919.

1. The Wild Swans at Coole

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          5
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   10
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,   15
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,   20
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   25
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?

f

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Reviewed by Ronald Hull
Consummate poetry! Most of us never see an unhealthy wild animal. They are usually eaten promptly by predators if they ever get sick or die. Swans mate for life, but if one swan dies young, I'm sure the other finds another mate quickly. No time for mourning when there are eggs to be laid, many, when so many babies are lost.

Ron

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