Happy Birthday William Butler Yeats!

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my graduation from University of Toronto. All I can really say about that is that it’s amazing how fast a year goes by. I mean, I can’t really even begin to wrap my mind around it or articulate how I feel about this little fact of life, but I can say that it make me feel very small somehow and like I want to vomit. Do you ever feel that way in the face of these kind of things?

Anyway, one of the last papers I wrote in University (besides — oh boy– my thesis) was for a class called “Pasts and Futures,” taught by one of my favorite professors (who also happened to be my thesis advisor). She was the real deal. Her classes were always really intense. Super rewarding, but really intense.

“Pasts and Futures” was not only no exception, but actually a more intense version of her already intense curriculum (think learning about twelve iterations of the modernist movement in twelve weeks with three to five articles to read a week as well as three to five pieces of art to learn about a week, complete with quizzes at the beginning of each class and papers and two midterms). It was awesome, but also really stressful, in part because of the work load and in part because I admire my professor and wanted to do well in her eyes (we can Freud that one some other time). I always took her assignments a little more seriously than anyone elses.


This is a very long winded way of saying that last year I worked very hard on a fifteen page paper comparing a stanza of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland to William Butler Yeats’ Leda and the Swan, which is how I really grew to appreciate Yeats, and especially this poem. It’s a little dark (okay really dark), but so lovely.

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                                  Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?


So, happy birthday WBY! Thanks for the memories.


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