Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just a quote...

First, my apologies for not posting. Christopher has done a nice job keeping content flowing, and I have not. I will resume posts soon, I promise!

In the meantime, I came across this charming quote from Yeats, which admittedly is self-serving as it seems to be to justify the existence of us editors:

"It is hard for a writer, who has spent much labour upon his style, to remember that thought, which seems to him natural and logical like that style, may be unintelligible to others. The first excitement over, and the thought changed to settled conviction, his interest in simple, that is to say in normal emotion, is always I think increased; he is no longer looking for candlestick and matches but at the objects in the room." - W. B. Yeats

Right? But lovely all the same.

And now a brief history of how I came upon this quote.

I have started receiving Poetry Daily's email with a new poem introduced by a poet or critic each day, and one day a few weeks ago, poet C. Dale Young chose "The Second Coming," by W. B. Yeats. (About Young: "I currently practice medicine full-time, serve as poetry editor of theNew England Review, and teach in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers." He also three books of poetry published, as listed on his blog - follow the link!) Young provided charming commentary on the poem, about its power in and of itself but also how he came upon it and how it impacted him. He made mention of the book in which the poem originally appeared, and how odd that book was. (Sorry to say I cannot find a link to Young's commentary on Poetry Daily's site.)

The book is Michael Robartes and the Dancer, published originally as a chapbook by The Cuala Press in Ireland in 1920 (Press archives may be preserved digitally at site linked, though down at time of posting), reproduced in a photo-lithography edition by Irish University Press in Shannon, Ireland in 1970 - the edition I found in the library. This quote is from Yeats' Preface in that book.

Here is the full text of the poem, by the way, which is always worth a read:

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


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.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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