bandz ahoy

Might as well have a separate thread because I'm destined to bang on about him somewhere or other on here, forevermore.

Last night I read the two versions he did of 'The Sorrow of Love' - one in the 1893, one in 1925.

It's fascinating to see what he changed, how he had improved and sharpened his craft by 1925. (I believe under Pound's influence, among other things.)

The poem itself is fascinating, although I think you might appreciate it more if you know about his life and his arc as a poet—from a mystical poet, mesmerised by the imagination (faeries and so on) to a discontented, agonised old man, dragged into the world of political action by his great love, the aristocratic and revolutionary Maud Gonne.

The Sorrow of Love (1893)

The quarrel of the sparrows in the eaves,
The full round moon and the star-laden sky,
And the loud song of the ever-singing leaves,
Had hid away earth's old and weary cry.

And then you came with those red mournful lips,
And with you came the whole of the world's tears,
And all the sorrows of her labouring ships,
And all the burden of her myriad years.

And now the sparrows warring in the eaves,
The curd-pale moon, the white stars in the sky,
And the loud chaunting of the unquiet leaves
Are shaken with earth's old and weary cry.

The Sorrow of Love (1925)

The brawling of a sparrow in the eaves,
The brilliant moon and all the milky sky,
And all that famous harmony of leaves,
Had blotted out man's image and his cry.

A girl arose that had red mournful lips
And seemed the greatness of the world in tears,
Doomed like Odysseus and the labouring ships
And proud as Priam murdered with his peers;

Arose, and on the instant clamorous eaves,
A climbing moon upon an empty sky,
And all that lamentation of the leaves,
Could but compose man's image and his cry.

* portrait by John Singer Sargent, in the Met's collection
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bandz ahoy
I don't think every line is an improvement, FTR, but certain images are much more arresting:

"curd-pale" moon must have become "crumbling moon" at some point as that's the version I read last night, but both are supplanted by "a climbing moon upon an empty sky" - which for some reason I find a very stark and striking image.


bandz ahoy
When I read his biography I found him very "relatable".

A timid loser of a man, terrified of action. Compensated with daydreams as a yoof (all that misty pre-raphealite stuff) and later came to see how futile it was in later life (which is when his poetry became really great).

"I AM worn out with dreams;
A weather-worn, marble triton
Among the streams;"

It's really great that biography -


Well-known member
He was tremendously vain and very very silly. So I don't think he's really like you at all corpse. You're not vain and you're only slightly silly, and in different ways to Yeats.


bandz ahoy
I am vain though, really - it's the other side of the coin to my bone-deep insecurity.

Well, what I mean is I possess the capacity for great vanity. It's another of those little demons in my head I have to smash with a hammer.

It's a strong reflex to think you're the best person in the world when you suspect for even a second that you're the worst person in the world.


bandz ahoy
I don't care for all this vulgar speculation in my refined thread about poetic technique.

Keep your scurrilous bin diving out of these hallowed halls.

Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.