Wednesday, November 18, 2009

'Sailing to Byzantium' technical analysis

Above, the 10-minute film from the National Library Yeats exhibition which closely analyses the manuscript of his late poem 'Sailing to Byzantium' and will be helpful for Leaving Cert pupils preparing for their exams, and teachers guiding them. It can also be watched within the virtual exhibition, by navigating to 'Poetry in Progress: Building the Tower'.

The fascination here is in watching the restless perfectionism with which Yeats approached the drafting of this famous poem, down to considerations of punctuation. It also shows clearly how rigorously Yeats thought through the logic of his work, and how, in the words of his poem 'Adam's Curse' :-

A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.

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