Poem of the Week: Courage Equal to Desire

Because I saw the band last week – they’re not half bad – and no one to whom I mentioned it knew the reference. One of my favorite Yeats poems, written for Maud Gonne, and yes, a good name for a band.

No Second Troy
WB Yeats

WHY should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

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3 Responses to Poem of the Week: Courage Equal to Desire

  1. mdvlist says:

    I can’t believe I’ve never read that– I love it. Yeats always gets me when he sounds like Latin in translation. (Not medieval Latin, mind, but the real stuff.)

  2. cicada says:

    Yeah – well, I’m sure you can see why I like it. . . ;)

  3. mdvlist says:

    Yeah – well, I was trying to focus on the positive . . . !
    That syntactic pile-up of that starts about midway through just shouts “inflected language.” Mmmm.

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