Under Ben Bulben: Analysis Part II


Many times man lives and dies
Between his two eternities,
That of race and that of soul,
And ancient Ireland knew it all.
Whether man die in his bed
Or the rifle knocks him dead,
A brief parting from those dear
Is the worst man has to fear.
Though grave-diggers' toil is long,
Sharp their spades, their muscles strong.
They but thrust their buried men
Back in the human mind again.

   In section II Yeats conveys the idea of reincarnation, when he says, “Many times man lives and dies”.   He suggests that there are two parts to the human existence, that of “race” and that of “soul”.   Race implies a man’s bodily existence on earth and soul implies man’s core existence on earth and in the afterlife.  “A brief parting from those dear / is the worst a man has to fear” suggests man’s sole does not die and therefore the only aspect of death man has to fear is the pain caused by parting from loved ones.  In the last four lines Yeats suggests that the human mind is the soul, and when a man dies his soul lives on.


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