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W B Yeats, “First Love” from “A Man Young and Old”

Though nurtured like the sailing moon
In beauty’s murderous brood,
She walked awhile and blushed awhile
And on my pathway stood
Until I thought her body bore
A heart of flesh and blood.

But since I laid a hand thereon
And found a heart of stone
I have attempted many things
And not a thing is done,
For every hand is lunatic
That travels on the moon.

She smiled and that transfigured me
And left me but a lout,
Maundering here, and maundering there,
Emptier of thought
Than the heavenly circuit of its stars
When the moon sails out.

From the first this poem proceeds by explosive contradiction. In the first two … Continue Reading

Rilke, The Panther; Ted Hughes, The Jaguar

Reading Rilke’s “The Panther” in Stephen Mitchell’s translation it struck me that Ted Hughes’s “The Jaguar” may well have been written as an answer to it, the two poems seem to oppose each other so directly. I wish I’d thought of this when I was teaching Hughes or using his poetry as a springboard for boys’ own writing.

You can find a compendium of translations of Rilke’s poem at http://www.thebeckoning.com/poetry/rilke/rilke3.html .The Mitchell version is one of the last.

I won’t give a link to the Hughes – there’s something depressing about the sheer number of online explanations of “The Jaguar”, especially … Continue Reading