Group Five presents: William Butler Yeats' "The Circus Animals' Desertion." Yeats welcomes you to his memories.


Read the Poem

Section One

Section Two

Section Three

Poetic Structure

Meet The Group

Yeats' Life


Section Three

Stanza V

The poem then shifts in focus once again towards his frustration and self-loathing. After confirming the "pure mind" (34) of the past poets who created "those masterful images" (35) of the figurative circus animals, Yeats questions his own intellect and creativity.

Glanworth Castle

He defiles his brilliant mind by metaphorically describing it as "a mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street, / old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can, / old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut / who keeps the till" (35-38). This powerful imagery of useless objects and the repetition of "old" express the disgust with which Yeats views his inability to create.

Yeats feels that his "ladder" to the elevated world of artistic creation is "gone" (38). Despite his frustration, he resolves to continue in poetry by deciding to "lie down where all the ladders start, / in the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart" (39, 40). This final statement closes the circle of the poem by returning to his aforementioned resolution to use his "heart" (4, 40) as his poetic theme. Yeats' ability to write a brilliant poem out of his poetic frustration is the great irony of this piece.

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