Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rodak Recites: Some Yeats

Why should not old men be mad?
Some have known a likely lad
That had a sound fly-fisher's wrist
Turn to a drunken journalist;
A girl that knew all Dante once
Live to bear children to a dunce;
A Helen of social welfare dream,
Climb on a wagonette to scream.
Some think it a matter of course that chance
Should starve good men and bad advance,
That if their neighbors figured plain,
As though upon a lighted screen,
No single story would they find
Of an unbroken happy mind,
A finish worthy of the start.
Young men know nothing of this sort,
Observant old men know it well;
And when they know what old books tell,
And that no better can be had,
Know why an old man should be mad.

And while we're at it, although these lines may have been quoted so often that they no longer can be heard or register on the blunted minds of info-saturated cyber-addicts, here they come again, since never have they rung more true:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
xxxx~ W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming


SINVILLE said...

I googled the poem. I like to read words over a few times, and then see what others have to say. I found the Yeats' poem on a Irish blog that I will read later. I was just thinking, I would not ever want to give up the mind that I have now in exchange of what I had as a young woman. I think we all want the vitality of youth, but not at a loss of our wisdom. Yeats forgot that youth has its curses and that we need to embrace the best part of wherever we are in our life.

Rodak said...

I think that Yeats is writing from a perspective more pessimistic than you want to be. But, then, you're still young!

SINVILLE said...

Robert, I see at almost 64, you can still learn a new trick. Your wife will be the happier! I remember a friend telling me, around 18, that I was perpetually happy. I can't remember if he was the one who suggested I would be happy mining salt in Siberia. I would make the most of the situation. Salt scrubs at a spa are damned expensive!