Sunday, December 2, 2007

"He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven" By William Butler Yeats

1. Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
2. Enwrought with golden and silver light,
3. The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
4. Of night and light and the half-light,
5. I would spread the cloths under your feet:
6. But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
7. I have spread my dreams under your feet;
8. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
This brief, but beautiful poem was introduced to me in a very unlikely place--Varsity Choir. These words, placed to music, were one of the songs for our holiday concert; and though I can recite the words from memory, I have not considered their true meaning.
Yeats begins his poem by describing the embroidered cloths that he wishes he could possess. The cloths, being from Heaven--a place of paradise--are visualized through imagery like "golden and silver light" (2) and "blue and dim" (3) to conjure up an image of luxurious and colorful material . These cloths are of significant value and worth. One would assume that the owner of such a treasure would surely showcase, sell, or keep them to themselves, but the man being portrayed in this poem says that they would be given to his loved one, "I would spread the cloths under your feet" (5). The act of spreading something under one's feet is a sign of respect , and he imagines just that, which displays his intense feelings for her.
However, these cloths are imaginitive, and therefore only exist in his mind and personal desires. He is not wealthy; he cannot afford such a gift; he cannot even supply something close to that level of joy, "But I, being poor, have only my dreams" (6). His dreams--symbolizing his love--are all that he possesses; enough to satisfy him, and enough to hopefully satisfy her. He would give her everything that he has, but is vulnerable and easily affected...she could easily break his heart. By stating, "Tread softly, for you tread on my dreams," (8) he means that she must be gentle and respectful because he is very sincere when it comes to his feelings. Yeats implicitly goes to show that one does not need cloths of heaven to achieve love, but rather hopes/dreams, and compassion.

5 comments:

sonofabennett7 said...

Good poem. Good analysis. Good all-around. I like how you summed up the poem in REAL english, for all us slow people. But I'd deffinately say, that the allusion to Noah's Ark struck me as out of place. Keep up the good work.

Teddy H. said...

Wow. That's all I can say. Wow. Very thourough, really brought it into perspective for me. I like how you memorized your Varsity Choir song and used that instead of "traditional" poetry. A lot of people forget that most music IS poetry, and like poetry still has the ability to send us a message and make us think. Way to be original!

Jen R. said...

The part that struck me the most was line 8, and you analyzed that very well. We picked poems by the same author, but now I'm beginning to think I like yours more...

edinacaitlin said...

By stating, "Tread softly, for you tread on my dreams," (8) he means that she must be gentle and respectful because he is very sincere when it comes to his feelings.

thats my favourite part christopher.
very well written :)

serp said...

Why would anyone spread something precious beneath someone's feet? As a sign of admiration? If someone admires you, and to show it, puts something fragile or beautiful on the ground in order for you to walk on it, it could only show that he's stupid, because he thinks that you would find joy in stepping on it. Would you? Is he doing you some good by this?

I am talking about the stupidity of the metaphor itself - it doesn't say something like "i give you this fragile thing, handle it with care and it could bring you joy" - it says "i put this fragile thing under your FEET, so do step on it, but with care, cause you might break it". What i mean is that approach seems like the approach of "creating problems out of nothing" - instead of giving something good to share, the author practically offers to SACRIFICE it, from the beginning. The author would like "her" to see that he's willing to sacrifice something very precious. And "good" sacrifice is actualized sacrifice - when something of a value was indeed destroyed. So the impression I get is that the author hopes to be loved for his masochism. But then again, maybe I'm just projecting my sick mind unto this poem, and taking it too far.