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The Realists -- William Butler Yeats

(Poem #160) The Realists
Hope that you may understand!
What can books of men that wive
In a dragon-guarded land,
Paintings of the dolphin-drawn
Sea-nymphs in their pearly wagons
Do, but awake a hope to live
That had gone
With the dragons?
-- William Butler Yeats
A simple enough poem about the Meaning of Life and the Purpose of Art
(yes, Yeats was never one to shy away from Big Things :-)).

This is about as close to free verse as Yeats ever got - which is not
saying much. Indeed, even when he eschews the use of a formal 'metre',
there's still a definite rhythm to his words (read lines two through
four out loud to see what I mean), and a rhyme scheme (abacdbcd) ( not
much of a scheme, I must admit :-)).

Apart from that... well, I suppose the main reason I've chosen to run it
is as an exercise in how a relatively small number of words
(dragon-guarded, dolphin-drawn, sea-nymphs) can be used to create an
atmospheric effect without the aid of any other devices. It's not
earth-shatteringly good, but it is worth a second look.


You can read more about Yeats at poem #21
There are several other Yeats poems in the Minstrels archive (I happen
to like his work :-)); you can read them (and all our other offerings)

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