How can we know the dancer from the dance?
WB Yeats, “Among School Children”
What is it, this incessant need,
to dribble ink upon a page
in musty old forms best abandoned,
better suited to an earlier age?
Yet – [sigh] – here I am once again,
cranking up the old gramophone,
herding trochees two by two,
like a cotillion chaperone
attempting to teach the Cha Cha Cha
to kids who think they know it all,
who vamp in front of mirrors at home
pretending brooms are microphones.
What shall I do with this absurdity —
O heart, O troubled heart — this caricature,
Decrepit age that has been tied to me
As to a dog’s tail?
WB Yeats, “The Tower”
While Webster was much obsessed with death
And saw the skull beneath the skin,
Yeats was obsessed with the aging process,
The hollow cheek that drank the wind.
Fastened to a dying animal, his soul
Sought solace in a Martello tower
Where he climbed its winding stair
To compose swan songs in his waning hours.
Retrospective poems, autobiographical,
That rehashed old loves and battles fought.
Attempting to come to terms at last
With the ravages that time had wrought.