Introduction Section One Section Two
Section Three Section Four Conclusion
Both nuns and mothers worship images,
But those the candles light are not as those
That animate a mother's reveries,
But keep a marble or a bronze repose.
And yet they too break hearts--O Presences
That passion, piety or affection knows,
And that all heavenly glory symbolize--
O self-born mockers of man's enterprise;
This section deals largely with the issue of love and expectation. There are two distinct different types of love—a motherly love, an earthly, and a religious love, like the nun’s love. In their respective ways, these two figures have an object of worship. But, like the nun’s eventual disappointment with God and the mother’s eventual disappointment with her child, overly high expectations bring nothing but discontent. Yeats is saying that everyone who worships any type of perfection, either earthly, or heavenly, will become “self-born mockers of man’s enterprise.”
is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul,
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?