Sailing to Byzantium

  • Posted on: 22 December 2010
  • By: admin

by Yeats

“Sailing to Byzantium” is a poem about a man who ends up in a foreign, sensual and interesting country but unfortunately he is not young anymore and he doesn’t seem to enjoy the experience very much. He starts complaining that this country is no for old men and that it pains him to see how lovers are seen everywhere and how he feels like a scarecrow, with a withered body and clothes that don’t fit properly. Finally, he consoles himself by saying that really, just because his body is betraying him, it doesn’t mean that he really has nothing left, because his soul and his mind are richer thanks to age. He says that his “soul [can] clap its hands and sing” and that there is no use complaining about what he cannot change.

The same idea of time defeating all people is presented in “Sailing to Byzantium.” The aged man is seen as nothing more than a “paltry thing,” a useless, “tattered coat,” a “dying animal” that cannot keep up with the desires of the heart and the loftiness of the soul of the educated man whose mental power is becoming stronger with age while his body is becoming weaker.