kellyrfineman (kellyrfineman) wrote,

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Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven - a Poetry Friday post

Today, a reprise of one of my favorite poems. Lots of folks love this one for the final two lines. I love it for the first four. Yesterday morning, whilst I was talking to my brother on the phone, I asked him how late it stayed light in Idaho, where he's been "visiting" on official Air Force business. He mentioned it being dusky at 10, with the remnants of twilight still visible at 10:30. And I started quoting this poem to him, because of "night and light and the half-light".

Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
by William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

This is composed of two quatrains, mashed together to form one stanza. It rhymes ABABCDCD. And it does so by reusing the same word twice: cloths, light, feet and dreams. It doesn't use a standardized metre, exactly (like iambic pentameter or dactyls). Rather, it uses the same number of accented beats: 4 in the first three lines, three in the fourth, 4 in lines 5-7 and 3 in line 8. Those of you so inclined can test it out by printing the poem and marking the stressed syllables. Go on. I'll wait.

I love the language of this poem, and the notion that the heavens are composed of embroidered cloths capable of being pulled down and spread at the feet of a loved one. I hope you enjoy it as well.

For those of you wondering, "Aedh" is a fictional character, a lovelorn guy held in thrall by La belle dame sans merci. The poem is sometimes retitled as "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven." It was recited in a movie called 84 Charing Cross Road as well as the movie Equilibrium.

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Tags: poetry, poetry friday, quatrains, yeats

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