But at some point it all seemed too high-pitched. Added to that was Yeats's penchant for self-dramatization and for oracular pronouncements based upon questionable cosmologies. And then I discovered, in turn, Thomas Hardy, Edward Thomas, and Philip Larkin. I immediately felt: "This is more like real life."
Don't get me wrong: in terms of sheer volume of beautiful and memorable poems, Yeats has few (or, perhaps, no) equals. His poetry still delights me when I read it. But, as the saying goes, the thrill is gone. I am perfectly willing to concede that my falling out of love is due to a spiritual, emotional, and/or aesthetic failure on my part. Or perhaps I just grew old. (After all, The White Album no longer means to me what it once did.)
All of this leads up to a lovely poem by Yeats -- a poem that goes well with Ezra Pound's "I stood still and was a tree amid the wood."
Samuel Palmer, "The Gleaning Field" (c. 1833)
He Thinks of His Past Greatness when a Part
of the Constellations of Heaven
I have drunk ale from the Country of the Young
And weep because I know all things now:
I have been a hazel-tree, and they hung
The Pilot Star and the Crooked Plough
Among my leaves in times out of mind:
I became a rush that horses tread:
I became a man, a hater of the wind,
Knowing one, out of all things, alone, that his head
May not lie on the breast nor his lips on the hair
Of the woman that he loves, until he dies.
O beast of the wilderness, bird of the air,
Must I endure your amorous cries?
W. B. Yeats, The Wind Among the Reeds (1899).
Nobody does this sort of thing better than Yeats. I confess that I can still feel the pull.
Samuel Palmer, "Harvest Moon" (c. 1833)