Poems of W.B. Yeats: The Rose

Sailing to Byzantium: Adrift on Perfection

In his poem "Sailing to Byzantium," Yeats rejects his perceptions of the sensual mortal world and fondly imagines a paradise of intellectual intransience in Byzantium. The impermanence of human life is recounted, for Yeats who himself is a part of the "dying generation" (Yeats ln 3) creates a bittersweet tone underlying the depictions of vitality and youth in the poem. Derisive words indicative of death are strategically placed to cause the literal "music" (Yeats ln 7) of life to be interrupted, and yet the music is described as "sensual" (Yeats ln 7). It is exactly this quality that lures Yeats back to the world of human condition that he himself cannot escape. In purposefully creating this poem into "the artifice of eternity" (Yeats ln 24) that will stand as a monument of his own "unageing intellect" (Yeats ln 8), Yeats attempts to create his own golden future. This is impossible however, for his intellect succumbs to the very appeals of his senses that alienate him from the "young in one another's arm" (Yeats ln1-2) and the "song" (Yeats ln 3) of the "birds in the trees" (Yeats ln 2). The narrator is not able to deliberately release...

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