William Butler Yeats' Adam's Curse Essay

William Butler Yeats' Adam's Curse Essay

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William Butler Yeats' "Adam's Curse"


The poem "Adam's Curse" (William Butler Yeats, reprinted in Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair. The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, 2nd ed. [W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1988] 147-148) carries the theme of a curse throughout the poem, and ties it in with experiences in the text. "Adam's Curse" can make connections with three situations that are central to the poem, and they are the following: first, the "pain and hard work" (footnote 6 p147) of deciphering poetry; next, the "pain and hard work" (p147) of being a woman, and finally the "pain and hard work" (p147) of making love work. These connections create and support the central story of the poem, and give the poem its unique feel. The feel of the poem is helped immensely by the form which is unassuming, as it lets the story tell itself without interfering. Together, the form and the numerous examples of a disheartening plague create a solid piece of work that can make a reader's heart cry. " A line will take us hours maybe/ Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought/ Our stitching and unstitching has been naught…"(4-6). With these lines, Yeats sets up the situation of poetry reading and deconstructing a poem for greater meaning for his three main characters. They invest many hours pondering poetry and if this exercise does not turn up deeper insight, all their work of examining the poem from different perspectives and angles- hence the "stitching and unstitching"(6)- has been for nothing. The narrator and his companions define themselves by their work, and deep down inside of them their toiling represents the core of their beings. This sentiment is best exemplified by the lines "Better go down upon your marrow bones/ And scrub a ...


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...e poem, without getting caught up in the wording and structure. "Adam's Curse" is a poem that increases in sadness as the verses build up to the end. It is an end where the narrator realizes that he is not able to love "in that old high way of love,"(37) and that he is as vacant as the moon that illuminates his thoughts and his heart as he comes to the dreary conclusion. It is also an end that reveals the true curse of Adam in the darkness of night, a realization with such doom that it could not have been uncovered during a sunny unassuming afternoon. It is the close of a session that leaves the participants with nothing to say, feeling empty from the revelations that they could not quite muster up. This inadequacy leaves the three characters with an empty husk for a heart, forcing them to be alone searching for new ideas to validate themselves-a true curse indeed.

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