12 April 2011

Did Yeats Snooze At The Screen?

Sailing to Byzantium (first stanza)
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.
William Butler Yeats 

I came across this the other day in an old anthology of mine.   As if I'm the first person to ever read it!. A revelation. Though, try as I might, I still don't see Javier Bardem of Tommy Lee Jones in these lines.  Seriously.  I just don't get it. I've been over and over it.  Possibly the language is too thick for me and the allusions too specific.
Well I get some of it.  Is it possible to sail off from here to mythical Byzantium, home of art and gold, when one is so fastened to a dying animal?
 "THAT" which we are leaving, sailing away from.  Ireland?  Toronto? Geography in general?  This mortal coil?

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