Posted: June 6th, 2021
Poetry means many things to people all over the world. Poetry is an outlet or artistic and creative way of telling a story or expressing your emotions. It is something that does not require a lot of skill, but imagination and feeling. “Sailing to Byzantium” written by William Butler Yeats is a poem that speaks of the craving for something one cannot have and the immortality of people, art and intellect, and greatness. “Sailing to Byzantium” is a poem based on the theme longing for something one cannot have. In this case the old man in the poem is yearning to be young and live on forever even when his time is up.
To escape death and old age the man sails to Byzantium. Byzantium is the opposite of the old man. “The young in one another’s arms, birds in the trees” and “The salmon falls, the mackerel crowded seas” are lines from the poem that illustrate the youth and vibrance of Byzantium, the youth and viberance the old man desires. Throughout the poem there are lines that hint about the immortality of people and life. One can continue to live on forever spiritually or by being remembered for having a great achievement or a great impact. In the second stanza Yeats writes, “An aged man is but a paltry thing. The old man sees age as just a number. His body may be growing older, but his insides are youthful. In the third stanza Yeats writes “Into the artifice of eternity”. This line can translate into on the illusion of immortality. Finally, in the last stanza Yeats writes, “Once out of nature I shall never take my bodily form from any natural thing. ” Yeats writes that once the old man has passed he will be remembered by a symbol or sculpture much like a royal emperor. He will be represented by any natural thing. In this poem it is important to the old man that he lives on forever in the magnificent paradise of Byzantium.
In addition to the immortality of people, the continuous life of art and intellect were written about. In stanza one Yeats writes, “Caught in that sensual music all neglect, moments of unaging intellect. ” These two lines illustrate the immortality of art and intellect. Though some may neglect the elders because the elderly seem to lose their intellect as they age, the older generations were basically bards of education and intellect. Intellect is something that is passed down from generation to generation, it is something that will live forever. “Sailing to Byzantium” is a poem largely associated with greatness. Byzantium was a paradise.
It consisted of salmon-falls, mackerel-crowded seas, gold mosaic walls, Grecian goldsmiths, and a royal emperor. Byzantium was magnificent, just like the idea of immortality. I think Yeats wrote about Byzantium and immortality together because they go hand in hand. William Butler Yeat’s poem “Sailing to Byzantium” is a poem about greatness and all of its elements. Byzantium was a lively place where it seemed like anything was possible. It was a paradise to escape to. To me “Sailing to Byzantium” is a poem of inspiration. The poem seemed to make the idea of dying meager because one can live on forever, even past their time.
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