Under Ben Bulben: Analysis Part V


Irish poets, earn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.
Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after
Porter-drinkers' randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into the clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indomitable Irishry.

    Section V of “Under Ben Bulben” is a call to arms, or pens and paint brushes as it would be.  Yeats pleas with his contemporaries and successors to hold onto the tradition of glorious work which the “indomitable Irishry” have upheld over the years.  This new era of poets and artists, “the sort,” as he refers to them, have butchered and mutilated Irish art.  This mutilation is described in the fourth line of part V where Yeats depicts the art as, “all out of shape from toe to top.”  Furthermore, the modern era of poets and artists have not taken nor appreciated the unyielding example left for them by the poets of the past “seven heroic centuries.”  The word “heroic” here conveys to the reader that there was a triumph in art made by these men; perhaps a artistic conquest or mastery.  The “unremembering hearts and heads” of the new poets and artists have insulted their country’s heritage.  Yeats again plays the role of the mendicant to make a final bid for “the sort” to “cast your minds on other days.”  This is an implication that they are moving in the wrong direction.

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