Ripping yarns, beautiful lies and a few home truths.
Tom O'Bedlam's readings of the great poems of the 20thC are so interesting. I must admit to being a little infatuated with his morbid, fatalistic tone. He did a great job of 'picking blackberries' by Seamus Heaney. Who woulda known that summertime pastime could be a study in melancholia?
Another Leonard Cohen fan here perhaps?
I had a couple of listens to this the other night, just to hear it and be reminded of the music or pattern that Yeats brought to his work. He was good like that, short lines that often rhymed but also bore a kind of bass-line tone at the end, a bit like a tolling bell. That line 'A Terrible Beauty is Born' reminded me of a couple of posts you've made here over the years, about acts of damage committed by the young self, heroic steps taken in pursuit of some undefinable experiential goal where 'all is changed utterly. The poem is political of course, all tied up with the events of the 1916 uprising and even uses the names of some of the martyrs, and Yeats knew what he was doing in a professional context, you know, enshrining his name for all time in the cause of Irish freedom, but I always felt with Yeats that his work does go beyond just that. There is a sort of experiential truth relating to his own failures and inadequacies there, if not evident between the lines, so to speak, then in the pace and rhythm and weighty counterpoints he inserts. Even though his terrible beauty here is the enactment of political change resulting in inevitable death, you still get the feeling he's someone on the outside, strangely forbidden from participating in anything like that himself because he'd made some kind of sacrifice, damaged himself in some way, so that he could write about the shit instead of be it. He was an awful sop you know, perhaps even a coward, and ultimately he left an epithet that reflected his overall take on life, which actually wasn't much. As for comparisons with Leonard Cohen, I'm not so sure. I'm not an expert but while Cohen's work tends to be slow paced and melancholy it's more concerned with spiritual pleading and satisfaction and is wholly modern (in language and subject) in the same way Yeats was an unwavering classicist fixed on politics and the ultimate dissatisfaction of having to rely on an ambivalent muse rather than any genuine love affair, so really there isn't that much in common.