Poems of W.B. Yeats: The Tower

Poems of W.B. Yeats: The Tower Summary and Analysis of Three Fragments on Death

I. The Wheel

The speakers, identified as “we,” call in winter for spring, in spring for summer, and in summer for winter. In winter “we” call for nothing, because the spring will not come again. “We” only long for the grave.

II. Youth and Age

When the speaker was young he cried out against injustice, but he now praises the world as he leaves it.

III. The New Faces

If the speaker's friend or lover were the first dead, I would not walk where we swore we would never die. The shadows of the speaker and the dead would be so vital, they would make the living seem dead in comparison.


The inclusion of these short poem fragments in an otherwise finished collection is another indication of Yeats’ move away from formal structure. These fragments serve to further emphasize his agitation over aging: the issue seems even to dominate his scribblings, his notes. “The Wheel” is a poignant call against death. It seems that death is not part of the natural order, but rather a halt to the progression of seasons. “Youth and Age” illustrates another unnatural aspect of the approach of death: it makes the critical poet falsely praise life as it leaves him. In the last fragment, Yeats tries to deny death by asserting that even in death he would be more inspired, more lively than the living.