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tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: kimbo (---.in-addr.btopenworld.com)
Date: September 13, 2004 10:07AM

poet required please and poem title - required for funeral. thanks


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: StephenFryer (---.lns2-c7.dsl.pol.co.uk)
Date: September 13, 2004 11:53AM

Aedh Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven
by William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Stephen


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: September 14, 2004 06:07PM

Stephen, the title of this one is often given as 'He wishes ...' Is 'He' how 'Aedh' is pronounced, and is Aedh a pronoun or a proper name?

Interesting that Kimbo mistakenly thought that the word was 'lest'. IMO the one blemish in this luminous little poem is 'because' in the last line. It has inappropriate overtones of purpose, and scans awkwardly. I wish Yeats had written 'for'.


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: StephenFryer (---.l5.c1.dsl.pol.co.uk)
Date: September 15, 2004 03:54AM

Now there's a good question, Ian.

Research has found this website

[www.webdelsol.com] />
and this explanation

One of the first things I learned is that "The Wind" originally contained about forty pages [small pages, to be sure] of notes, almost none of which are included in the notes of the collected. Furthermore, in comparing "The Wind" against the collected, one notices that poem titles featuring the men named Aedh, Mongan, Michael Robartes and Hanrahan become poem titles featuring "He," The Lover," or "The Poet." Again one might respond, "So what? Yeats has simply chosen at a later date to universalize his titles"-- which is, to some extent, true. But, in reading the notes to "The Wind," one learns that originally Yeats in- tended the characters Aedh, Hanrahan and Michael Robartes to be symbols of certain kinds of men, or-- as Yeats first put it-- as "principles of the mind." Michael Robartes is "fire reflected in water" or "the pride of the imagination brooding upon the greatness of its possessions," which Yeats likens to the adoration of the Magi. Hanrahan is "fire blown by the wind" or "the simplicity of an imagination too changeable to gather permanent possessions," or, again in biblical terms, the adoration of the shepherds. Aedh, the loftiest, is "fire burning by itself" or "the myrrh and frankincense the imagination offers continually before all that it loves"--an imagination we should presumably link to Mary Magdalene,though Yeats does not instruct us so. Does knowing this symbolic intention in any way alter or deepen the poems? Apparently Yeats thought not, since he removed the names and the notes [though Michael Robartes is not a character he surrendered entirely]. Perhaps more notable than the removal of these unnecessarily freighted names is that the removal seems to be part of a larger alteration-- the general de-Irishing of "The Wind."
Most critics will laugh at such a contention, since Yeats was proudly Irish and since the poems themselves-- if not the titles-- are still full of Irish places and characters. But, once the larger Irish context provided by titles and notes is removed, Yeats's remaining Irish terms are no longer "occult," if I may use that term: they function, to a great extent, like the names and places in Hardy's poetry do-- as specificities which the reader automatically generalizes into universalities. Yeats is translating, one might say, his poetry out of the "Celtic twilight" and into the mainstream of twentieth-century English verse. And the poems don't seem to suffer much either way : theyare not among Yeats's finest work in any sense and would not be much read today if they had not been written by a major poet who is otherwise of great interest. The most "famous" poem in "The Wind"-- and it is a fine one-- is "The Song of Wandering Aengus," a specifically Irish character narrating a universal situation; Yeats's take on "la belle dame sans merci." Otherwise the best poems in the book are "The Host of the Air" and "The Cap and Bells", neither of which features the missing "names" nor needs outside explication.
On the other hand, the loss of the notes is a loss indeed. Several of them are lengthy enough to feature not simply one or another explanation of something within a poem but also to expand upon the poem itself or to detail the "environmental" influence out of which Yeats wove the poem. If we take Yeats's notes at face value, which I assume we should, then they provide us with a fascinating glimpse at folk beliefs and tales in rural Ireland not much more than one hundred years ago : tales in which the "powers" behind nature are still personified as sometimes malevolent spirits which frequently interact with human beings, a "folk" world in which the events of Yeats's earlier "The Stolen Child" would be accepted as literally true.
Since I am not a Yeats scholar, I do not know if he later supressed these notes,or if they are collected in another place. But in any event, by separating them from their connection to the poems in "The Wind," he effectively removed them from the consideration of the "average" Yeats fan, who comes to the poet only for his poetry. And that is indeed a pity, and a reason to own "The Wind Among the Reeds" as a discrete object.


Still working on the pronunciation!

Stephen


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: September 15, 2004 06:51AM

Thanks, Stephen. Very informative and interesting.

Ian


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-04rh16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: September 15, 2004 01:36PM

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


The anapestic substitutions are no fault, at least to my reading. And the penultimate line of 'dreams under' seems ok as well. I do have problems with lines 3 & 4, though. Are the last two syllables in those lines intended as spondees? If so, each is a foot short for the scan.

He must have had good reasons for the exact duplication of the last words, but that is most unusual as well.


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: StephenFryer (---.l5.c1.dsl.pol.co.uk)
Date: September 15, 2004 02:20PM

A bit more about this Aedh business. This, by the Yeats scholar A Norman Jeffares, from his introduction to The Love Poems (Kyle Cathie Ltd;1990).
'The tone of the love poems in The Wind Among the Reeds (1899), however, is generally melancholic. Many of the titles suggest this. In them the lover mourns for the loss of love, and for the change that has come upon him and his beloved; he hears the cry of the sedge; he thinks of his past greatness when a part of the constellations of heaven; he pleads with the elemental powers; he wishes for the cloths of heaven; he reproves the curlew; he remembers forgotten beauty; he thinks of those who have spoken evil of his beloved; he tells of a valley full of lovers; he asks forgiveness because of his many moods; he pleads with his friend for old friends; he speaks to the hearers of his songs in coming days; he gives his beloved certain rhymes. Who is he? He is, of course, Yeats, masked in the titles when the poems first appeared as various invented personages - Aodh, Aedh, Mongan, O'Sullivan Rua, Hanrahan, Michael Robartes - later to become 'He' or 'The Poet' or 'The Lover'. These are poems which talk of weariness. It comes from those dreamers 'the lily and rose'; it is part and parcel of the lassitude of the fin de siecle. The poet wants to escape from all things uncomely and broken; his heart is 'out-worn'; he is 'old with wandering'; he has been in 'the Path of Stones and the Wood of Thorns'. Passion has worn the white woman to whom he brings 'the books of his numberless dreams'. He appeals to the Elemental Powers to encircle his love and sing her into peace. He can offer her only his dreams in one of the most hauntingly beautiful of these poems, 'He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' (p. 36), knightly devotion carried very far without any hope of reward except that she should tread lightly on the dreams he has spread under her feet. Later he was to describe this poem as a way to lose a lady, and 'The Cap and Bells' (p. 28), a decidedly more insouciant poem, itself the record of a dream, as the way to win one.'



Post Edited (09-15-04 13:20)

Stephen


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: StephenFryer (---.l6.c3.dsl.pol.co.uk)
Date: September 16, 2004 01:59PM

It's pronounced 'Ay'. Allegedly.
[clanegan.org] />

Stephen


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: Bairbre (---.bas503.dsl.esat.net)
Date: September 16, 2004 03:57PM

As an Irish speaker, I can confirm that Aedh (modern Aodh - used as the Irish for Hugh ) is indeed prounced Ay


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: September 16, 2004 07:20PM

Is it true that those appaling spelling conventions that none of us can pronounce were foisted on the Irish by English academics? If so, why don't Irish academics simplify things? Its worse than Welsh.


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: Bairbre (---.bas502.dsl.esat.net)
Date: September 17, 2004 04:50PM

I don't know quite what you mean, Linda. The 'h' in Irish softens the preceding letter - to the extent, in some cases, that the preceding consonant and 'h' become silent, as in this case.


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: September 17, 2004 07:45PM

Exactly, how does anyone not familiar with Irish names or words know which are softened to invisibility?


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: marian2 (---.range81-152.btcentralplus.com)
Date: September 18, 2004 05:00AM

In my experience, it's just like the Irish weather - unpredictable, but delightful!


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: CarolannG (---.neave01.pa.comcast.net)
Date: November 10, 2004 04:23PM

You're all too brilliant for me. I was touched by Anthony Hopkins' reading of "tread softly....." in the movie "84 Charing Cross Road" being featured on cable TV this week. I wanted to reread it for myself, so I surfed the web and stumbled upon your analyses. How DID you become so smart????


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: November 10, 2004 06:05PM

In this thread, Carollann, we had smartness thrust upon us by Stephen. Someone has to do it.

That was a good movie; and the book was good too.

Ian


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: Bairbre (---.bas503.dsl.esat.net)
Date: November 11, 2004 06:12PM

How does anyone not familiar with the English language know that 'bough', 'cough' and 'rough' are pronounced differently - it's all a matter of learning.


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: November 11, 2004 07:03PM

I know, sometimes it makes you wish ITA had caught on.

And as long as there isn't a systematic rule I'm missing, but is learn them one by one I don't mind so much.

And I still prefer Welsh.



Post Edited (11-12-04 15:55)


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: Martijn (---.dsl.concepts.nl)
Date: December 18, 2004 10:19AM

Well this was certainly an interesting piece to read. I came across the "tread softly lest you tread on my dreams" line in the movie: "Equilibrium". I hope thats the exact title, forgive me for any lapse in spelling, its quite an unusual word. It's that last line that caught my attention, I'm pretty sure thats what everybody says, but still. Being a forum member somewhere i immediatly wanted this as my "signature". So thanks for providing the full txt. About the short pronounciation discussion...since you are all either english/irish or welsh I think its safe to butt in on the convo with me being Dutch, and therefore not having english/irish/welsh as a primary language. I studied at Uni for "English Teacher", I lasted one year. One of the subjects was Phonetics. I think it truely is the most difficult subject I have ever had to study. You almost have to learn every word, rule and pronunciation one at a time. Of course there are certain "groups" one can use to help you remember. But there are always exceptions and exceptions within the exceptions. I wish they did teach this on Highschools in a lighter form; it really helps improving your pronunciation! Which of course is the point of the subject, but still, it's really really helpful.
One other thing, i dont remember who wrote it, but someone mentioned that "because" seems to be out of order and should be replaced by "for".

I have spread my dreams under your feet
- - - - - - - - - = total of 9 intervals

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams = total 10 intervals
- - - - - - - - - -

if you change because to for, you get 9 intervals...like the previous line. Meaning: i agree with the person who mention the "for". I'm an occasional "poet of the lighter verse" but i've never been interested in reading poetry books. I think I'll go to the library and find some Yeats stuff later this week smiling smiley


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-03rh15rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: December 19, 2004 07:46PM

There is syllabic verse, accentual verse, and (of course) accentual-syllabic verse. That is why the syllables (intervals?) do not necessarily match in a given poem's lines. Yeats was concerning himself with maintaining an equal number of 'feet' (five) in each of his lines, and not paying as much attention to the exact syllable count.


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: Martijn (---.dsl.concepts.nl)
Date: December 20, 2004 11:22AM

Ok thanks for that extra info Hugh, uhm yeah i have no idea why i used the word "intervals"...i think it isnt even a word in english smiling smiley my bad.


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: ironpaddy (82.36.26.---)
Date: September 26, 2008 01:34PM

Semantics
This will be my only contribution as I will upset too many people. Please lighten up!
Poetic licence allows the writer to express themselves in any manor they see fit or otherwise we will loose so much beauty and feeling. Have a heart enjoy the sentiment. Forget the grammar...........Thanks.

Yes I know my's crap as well!!!!!!


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: JohnnyBoy (68.194.80.---)
Date: September 26, 2008 01:56PM

You got it !


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Re: tread softly lest you tread on my dreams
Posted by: LindaD (91.108.8.---)
Date: September 27, 2008 12:33PM

Since this thread has been bumped I might as well share one of my holiday snaps from last year.

This and this are two pictures of an art work just outside Drumcliffe churchyard illustrating this poem.


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