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    • Join Date: Jan 2007
    • Posts: 289
    #1

    Smile The Choice

    The Choice by William Butler Yeats

    The intellect of man is forced to choose
    perfection of the life, or of the work,
    And if it take the second must refuse
    A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
    When all that story's finished, what's the news?
    In luck or out the toil has left its mark:
    That old perplexity an empty purse,
    Or the day's vanity, the night's remorse.


    I'm deeply fascinated by this poem, but I'm not so sure of its meaning, especially the last few lines.
    Would some experts of poems shed some light?

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #2

    Re: The Choice

    Here's some food for thought:

    Editor's preface, The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats Volumn III: Autobiographies.

    In 1938, Mrs. Yeats told her husband, '"AE was the nearest to a saint you or I will ever meet. You are a better poet but no saint. I suppose one has to choose"' (L 838). It is a distinction Yeats seems to have already endorsed in these lines from 'The Choice', written in 1931:

    The intellect of man is forced to choose
    Perfection of the life, or of the work,
    And if it take the second must refuse
    A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark. (P 246)

    But Yeats rarely makes simple choices, presenting us instead with a career of vacillations, of attempts -- always willful, sometimes heroic -- to have it both ways. No less than Keats, he thought that the poet leads a life of allegory and that his works are comments on it.

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