Difference between revisions of "Sailing to Byzantium (poem)"

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Revision as of 23:23, 15 August 2019

Yeats, William Butler. "Sailing to Byzantium." 1927. © 1928 Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. Frequently rpt., including The Norton Anthology of English Literature, volume 2. We have used the Fourth Edition. New York: Norton, 1979.

Poem.[1]

If allowed "out of nature," the Speaker refuses for "bodily form [. . .] any natural thing" but would be re-embodied in "such a form" as the "Grecian goldsmiths" of old Byzantium might make, "Of hammered gold and gold enameling," of a mechanical bird. David Daiches, the Norton ed. for the Modern section, calls attention to WBY's knowledge of the automata (our word) said to have been made for the Byzantine emperor, including "a tree made of gold and silver, and artificial birds that sang" (Norton Anthology 1977, note 4). Daiches tells readers to compare also Hans Christian Andersen's Emperor's Nightingale. Note well Daiches's comment on the poem as a whole: "In his old age, the poet repudiates the world of biological change (of birth, growth, and death), putting behind him images of breeding and sensuality to turn to 'monuments of unaging intellect,' in a world of art and artifice outside of time" (1976, n. 1). Later in the modern period, this preference of art/artifice over nature and biology will be more problematic.

(RDE, 30/01/00), RDE, Title, 15Aug19