Comment on The Widening Gyre


Comment on The Widening Gyre

Okay, so I promised more on The Widening Gyre. and more particularly to the link at this point. While I have no comment to make regarding Mr. Yeats's spirituality (having no intimate knowledge of what he believed, and finding that, more often than not, such knowledge tends to distract me from enjoying the sheer beauty of the poetry and language), I must take some exception to comments regarding the poem itself. While I'm certain that there may be allusion to Viconian cycles and other absurdities of ancient historiography and philosophy of history, I find that I take exception to the characterization of the poem. While it certainly uses Christian imagery, perhaps because it would be commonly accessible to his readership, I don't know that it so much represents a "predictive" poem as a "look what's happening now poem." A minor disagreement, I acknowledge, but one worth noting. After all, Mr. Yeats and the rest of the world had just been through what they had considered the most apocalyptic conflict ever to have occurred on the face of the earth.

And frankly while there are innumerable things that could be read into the poem, it is best appreciated for the sheer power of imagery and language. As with all great poetry, the rewards of the simple literal reading (preferably aloud) are far more profound than anything that scholarship would presume to wrest from the work.

In addition to this magnificent addition to the oeuvre of modern poetry, Yeats also gave us the wonderful poetic gifts of "Leda and the Swan," "Sailing to Byzantium," "The Wilde Swans at Coole," and "The Lake Isle of Inisfree," just to name a few. His spirituality may have been confused, but grace often enters human confusion and gives a poet language to express what he himself has only misconstrued.

Another note: Viconian cycles as a historical phenomenon may be out of fashion, but they have given us that remarkable beginning (here citing from memory, so please forgive any missteps)

riverrun past eveandadam from swerve of shore to bend of bay brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation to Howth Castle and Evirons. . . (first portion of first sentence of Finnegan's Wake, by James Joyce)

Look out--Here Comes Everyone!

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 19, 2002 8:38 PM.

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