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Monday, February 11, 2008

No Country for Old Men Update

Stave It Off friend Die Claydermaus pointed me in the direction of two WB Yeats poems last week. He had remembered the line "no country for old men" from one of Yeats's works, and also saw parallels between the storyline and another famous poem, "The Second Coming". I'll reprint both below. Fans of the movie (or the book) are encouraged to speculate on what themes Cormac McCarthy mined from Yeats's classics. Certainly you can see how the first poem might relate to the sheriff character, and the second might suggest a character sketch of Javier Bardem's sociopath.

Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees-
Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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2 Comments:

At 2/11/2008 08:23:00 PM, Blogger Walaka said...

What, no love for your humble research assistant?

 
At 2/11/2008 11:49:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Sorry... much love to my lovely assistant Walter and his porto-mac.

 

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