Poetry Review: “The Folly of Being Comforted” by W.B. Yeats

I have a daughter studying for a semester in Galway, Ireland. Naturally Yeats is on my mind.

Here is a review of a poem I did at MontanaWriter in January of 2011, 5 years ago!

Yeats_CollectedWilliam Butler Yeats as a poet is unique. He grew greater as he aged. He was world famous as a poet in his early 20s, but wrote many of his best poems when he was in his 70s. For this reason, he has more great poems about middle age and old age than any other poet who has written.

The argument of this poem is a simple and straightforward one. So is its form. Yet in “The Folly of Being Comforted,” we see much that makes Yeats the greatest poet of the 20th Century: intellect, artistry, instinct, musicality,… poetic perfection.


The Folly of Being Comforted

One that is ever kind said yesterday:
‘Your well-beloved’s hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience.’
Heart cries, ‘No,
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild Summer was in her gaze.’

Heart! O heart! if she’d but turn her head,
You’d know the folly of being comforted.


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