Guarded – Part One

I’ve decided to start up a series of blog posts that tell the tale of “Guarded”, a story that I started writing a little while ago. As ever, I will try to illustrate the story with my own pictures; thanks for reading and enjoy!


Fireflies danced through the half-light, their wings an endless rush of colour and sound. They lit up the lake, making it dance and shimmer, as if it, too, was trembling in anticipation. The first firework rocketed upwards, and the fireflies darted into the bushes all around, fleeing as far greater colours and sounds cascaded around them. The night was instantly awash with cheers from the surrounding villagers, laughing whilst their children gasped in awe at the beauty of the celebrations.

fireworksAmata turned to her brother, a grin stretched across her face. When he didn’t look at her, she reached for his hand, childish desperation fuelling her plight. When Jesse shook her hand away, however, Amata stepped back in defeat, head low, despite the excitement all around her. Her brother still did not speak, but when, at last, she let out a small sob under her breath, he withdrew his dark eyes from the skyline to gaze at her, instead.

“It’s not your fault,” he whispered, and gave her hand a quick squeeze, before he turned his head back to the sky, once more. Amata sniffed slightly, glancing towards the masked Guardian who stood behind them. His featureless face was not looking up at the sky, as all as the villagers’ were; it was gazing straight back at her, head tilted slightly to the side.

Amata whipped back around and forced her head upwards, but her eyes were closed. She could still here the gasps and cheers of amazement all around her, but they suddenly sounded hollow. Her eyes remained firmly shut for the rest of the show, only one question filling her mind: how long had He been watching?

When at last there were no more fireworks to let loose, the villagers’ necks drooped slowly back to the dusty earth at their feet, waiting for The Verdict that they knew was to come.

The Guardians, surrounding the villagers on every side, drew slowly in, brushing past adult and child alike as they crossed the old bridge to the centre of the lake. There they gazed out at their captives, masks shielding their greedy expressions.

11240697_889816434390710_701256414_nThere was silence for a few seconds, and then a great orb of light shot out from the midst of the Guardians’ cloaks. It rose up, much like the fireworks had only minutes before, and split into five smaller orbs of fire. As they began to drift slowly towards the villagers, not a single head was lowered.

Amata wanted to reach for Jesse’s hand again, but she knew better. If they escaped with no reprimand tonight, then she knew that she could not make a mistake like that again. It was not only her own life that she was putting on her line; it was Jesse’s too, and she would do anything, rather than having to see him hurt.

Her eyes were fixed on the nearest orb of light, as it drifted lazily over its spectators. Over on the far side of the lake, one of the orbs had already found its destination: the resultant screams piercing into the night were enough to tell her that.

The orb was directly above her head now, its head burning her skin even as she gazed up at it. She’d never been as close as this to an orb before, and she hadn’t realised how strangely mesmerising they were. She felt the strangest urge to touch it rise up inside of her, but then another scream from across the lake jerked her back to reality. The orbs were dangerous.

Jesse was watching the orb, too, his thick brows furrowed as he watched it hover directly above them. Amata had just processed the horrific thought that the orb might have stopped moving, when Jesse grabbed it from mid-air.

Amata’s world froze. She watched as if she was a stranger to the boy who had just plucked the fiery mass from the air. It wrapped its snake-like tendrils about his wrists and ankles, binding him even as it burned him, and then whisked him away, dragging him to the circle of Guardians who stood, waiting.

She needed to scream, but she knew that she couldn’t. She only watched helplessly as her brother floated eerily in the air, his beautiful face alight with the pain he supressed. He and his four fellow captives, all floating beside each other, looked like every other captive of every other Verdict that there ever had been since the Guardians had first arrived at the village, yet this was so wrong. It wasn’t a stranger that Amata was watching suffer: it was her brother. It was Jesse.

Author Spotlight: Terry Pratchett

Author Spotlight

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)

Appreciating literature in the modern age can sometimes be difficult. Jacobean and Victorian works may always draw more attention to themselves, for literature appears to gather more importance with age. However, this does not mean that modern authors should be neglected, particularly when their books convey the power and magic of Terry Pratchett.

Preachin’ Pratchett

Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett was known for his fantasy works in the Discworld series. These forty-one novels, starting with “The Colour of Magic” in 1983, and ending with “The Shepherd’s Crown” in 2015, have spanned over thirty-two years. Their influences range from J. R. R. Tolkien, to Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. This diversity is reflected in Pratchett’s world, which is a flat disc, balanced on the back of four elephants, who stand on the back of the infamous Giant Star Turtle.

Some Inspirational Quotes

“Real Stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.” / “I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.” / “Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” / “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” / “It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.” / “There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.” / “The entire universe has been nearly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.” / “The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.” / “Goodness is what you do. Not who you pray to.”

The Joy of Writing

Arguably one of Pratchett’s greatest traits was the genuine love he had for writing. He is famously known for having said that monetary rewards were “an unavoidable consequence”, rather than a reason for doing something.

Pratchett even went as far as to discredit the works of J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien, claiming, whilst alluding to the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings series, “fantasy isn’t just about wizards ans silly wands. It’s about seeing the world from new directions”.

Although this may have horrified many of Pratchett’s fans, he remained honest, adding that he owed “a debt to the science fiction/fantasy genre which he grew up out of”, writing because it was what he loved doing, and writing about what he felt needed to be demonstrated and emphasised.

Pratchett’s Passing

On the 12th March 2015, Sir Terry Pratchett died “with his cat sleeping on his bed, surrounded by his family” (Larry Finlay, Pratchett’s publisher). At sixty-six years old, the author had lost his battle to Alzheimer’s disease and produced his very last book. Yet although his friends, family and supporters throughout the world mourned the loss of Pratchett, he, himself, retained the humour that he’d had throughout his life.

On the very day of his death, Pratchett had a friend access his twitter account, and tweet three things: “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER”; “Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night”; and, finally, “The End”.

Whether Terry truly believed in his own characterisation of Death that he made throughout his novels, we will never know, but it is clear that he did not fear death, perhaps because he had written of it for such a long time.

It is also true that his death was a beginning as much as an end, as he tasked his daughter, Rhianna, with continuing to write his books after his death. Although Rhianna has since said that she cannot do as her father wished, she has revealed that she will be working on separate, add-on additions to the series, even if they cannot touch the excellence of her fathers’ works.

author-spotlight-april
My original article, published in “The Sixth Sense”

This article was originally published for a school newspaper that I established when I was in Sixth Form. You can check out my other Author Spotlight pages here.

“The Wild Swans at Coole”: Analysis

The Poem

The Wild Swans at Coole

By W. B. Yeats

The trees are in their autumn beauty
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

The Message

The Wild Swans at Coole basically finds Yeats contemplating a game of swans (apparently “game” refers to a group of swans when they’re sitting or swimming, and “wedge” refers to them when they’re in the air). The poem has a lot of external references, from Yeats’ Irish nationalism, to his unrequited love of Maud Gonne, but, on the surface, it shows Yeats watching the swans that he has watched for many years, and, as he watches, they all take off into the air, leaving him to contemplate what he will do when they are no longer around.

The Analysis

Metre & Structure

The poem is written in a balladic style, echoing how Yeats is reflecting on the past, glorifying nature and love through this style’s connection to tradition and romance.

The Title

Coole Park was the home of Lady Gregory, a patron of the arts and Yeats’ close friend. Yeats must have watched the swans when he wandered the park on his visits to Lady Gregory.

Line by Line

  • “The trees are in their autumn beauty, / The woodland paths are dry,” – Ireland, Yeats’ home, is thought to be a place of peace and serenity, filled with nature and beauty. These lines may also, however, reference Maud Gonne and how she is in her “autumn beauty”, her veins “dry”, due to her lack of passion for Yeats.
  • “Autumn” / “Twilight” – Yeats considers time a lot in this poem; he thinks of Autumn, which marks the beginning of the end of a year, and twilight, the beginning of the end of a day. This demonstrates how he is considering the end of his life, as he does in other poems such as “The Cold Heaven“. It may also reference the end of nature, however, relevant considering the changes that were beginning to happen in Ireland during Yeats’ lifetime.
  • “Mirrors a still sky” – This poem was published in 1917, a year after the Easter Risings of 1916, suggesting that Yeats may be reflecting on his peaceful Ireland before the chaos broke out.
  • “Among the stones / Are nine-and-fifty swans” – The swans surround the “stones” – inanimate objects that may represent the dead Irish from the Easter Risings. This is particularly notable as, whilst the last two lines of each stanza generally rhyme in a ballad, Yeats only offers a half-rhyme here, which emphasises the discord in the serene setting – all is not as peaceful as it seems! The swans, however, offer a stark contrast to this eerie setting, as they provide the imagery of elegance and serenity. They could perhaps represent the spirits of those who died, linking the ideas together.
  • “Suddenly mount” – “Suddenly” represents the changing pace of Ireland, a contrast to how the word is used in “The Cold Heaven” to represent the explosion of Yeats’ inner turmoil. “Mount”, meanwhile, conveys sexual connotations that link the poem to the myth, put into poem by Yeats, of “Leda and the Swan”, where Zeus impregnates the girl, Leda, whilst in the guise of a swan.
  • “And scatter wheeling in great broken rings / Upon their clamorous wings” – The plosive language of “great broken rings” demonstrates Yeats’ resentment at being rejected by Gonne and his anger at having his traditional, romantic Ireland, essentially taken away from him. The peace is broken by the swans, echoing how the Easter Risings broke Irish peace.
  • “My heart is sore” – Yeats’ mental frustration at losing Ireland is causing him physical pain, too. This passion and association with the heart not only links back to Maud Gonne, but also demonstrates just how much love Yeats has for Ireland.
  • “All’s changed since I” – Ireland’s changing around Yeats; the structure of this sentence also suggests that it’s leaving him behind, as the personal pronoun “I” comes after the changing process considered in “all’s changed”.
  • “The bell-beat of their wings above my head” – The “bell-beat” could represent the end of a life, perhaps Yeats’, as he considers this, or perhaps the Nationalist heroes’, which were lost in the previous year.
  • “Unwearied still, lover by lover” – Swans mate for life, and this line reveals just how much they are “unwearied” by each other’s company. Yeats resents this as he compares it to his relationship with Gonne.
  • “Their hearts have not grown old” – Reference to how the Nationalist heroes died young, or perhaps a reference to how Yeats is ageing.
  • “Passion or conquest – Perhaps again linking to the myth of “Leda and the Swan”, and Zeus’ mysterious reasons behind it.
  • “But now they drift on the still water” – The swans came back to Yeats, suggesting that his traditional Ireland has not quite come to an end, and that there is still hope for it. From a more eerie interpretation, the fact that the swans “drift” and the water is “still” gives the impression of a lack of movement, and therefore also perhaps a lack of life.
  • “Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day / To find they have flown away?” – Yeats realises that his life will have very little value after Gonne is dead and his beloved Ireland is changed forever. Both his poetry and his actual life will have no purpose without either of these great loves. The conclusive question mark represents Yeats’ overall confusion – how can he live when he’s lost so much?

Overview

The Wild Swans at Coole.JPG
My original analysis of this poem

The Wild Swans at Coole is one of Yeats’ poems that most aligns him to the Romantic poets. Yeats himself, of course, is never labelled a Romantic poet in the same way that people like William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Percy Shelley (1792-1822) are, simply because Yeats (1865-1939) was too late. Yet the Romantics were clearly a strong influence in some of Yeats’ poems, particularly those, such as The Wild Swans at Coole, where he romanticises nature.

This poem demonstrates Yeats’ nationalism and loyalty to Ireland, along with his sadness at how, essentially, time has changed things. It has changed things for Yeats on a personal basis, but it has also changed things for Ireland. Yeats doesn’t want to imagine what might happen in Ireland’s future; he doesn’t want to imagine an Ireland where his swans don’t exist anymore. So, essentially, this is a poem about reflecting on the past, the future, and fearing the loss of natural beauty and tradition. It’s also one of Yeats’ more political poems, if only in how it links to the Easter Risings of 1916.

The Unwelcome Shadow

Here’s my attempt at the Sunday Scrawl prompt challenge, which I recently begun myself; it runs from Sunday on a weekly basis (so you still have all week to enter)! If you want to know more about this challenge, click here.


Seven o’clock has been and gone; that huge clock tower at the riverfront informed me several minutes ago. England, it was so obvious about everything. There was no secrecy – no discretion.

He had discretion, though, and a lot of it, too. Perhaps that’s why he was late; perhaps he thought to trick me somehow. I couldn’t think why, though. Why would he, my – was client the right word? Why would he want to attack me? I was the one getting the job done.

13768373_1752273815042908_764435473_nUnless he’d turned me over to the authorities already.

I cast a furtive look about me, eyes narrowed. It’s risky business, meeting beforehand, but he insisted. Was that his plan – to turn me in? To make me appear the crook? No doubt he’d want to get in their good books, thinking it good insurance for the next stunt he tried to pull.

I should have known. He didn’t have the guts for this. All along, he was just a coward – a waste of my time and energy.

The bells about the clock tower ring again, telling me it’s quarter past. I sigh, looking towards the Palace of Westminster. They’re in there now, I think, with all their big words and opinions. They feel so safe – so protected – in their big building with all those guards outside. They think they’re keeping us all out, I think, smirking.

Then I sigh, turning back to the riverfront, only to jump back slightly. He’d arrived, his hat slanted to one side slightly, and the flicker of a smile playing about his lips.

“You’re in trouble,” he wheezed, and I turned back around once more to see the Palace of Westminster blocked out by the unwelcome shadow of our mother.

“Sneaking into Westminster for a stink bomb!” she cried. “What next?”

Sunday Scrawl #5

It’s Sunday again, which means that it’s time for the next Sunday Scrawl! This is a writing prompt competition that I have been running for a few weeks now; here are the rules:

Sunday Scrawl Logo

  1. Below, you will find this week’s photo prompt!
  2. Responses to the prompt can vary from prose/poetry writing to more photographs – there are no limits and no word counts.
  3. There are no tangible prizes for this challenge, but I will be reblogging the top entries!
  4. Feel free to use the photo below or the “Sunday Scrawl” icon to illustrate your responses (although I’d love to see some of your own illustrations, too)!
  5. Please remember to include a pingback to this post in your response.
  6. To enter, click on the “Mister Linky” icon at the bottom of this page!

I’ll be posting my attempt at this prompt later on today!

The Judgement of Paris

The Judgement of Paris marks the beginnings of the Trojan War, the terrible event which has gone down in both myth and history as lasting ten years, and resulting in thousands of casualties. The Judgement of Paris does, however, revolve primarily around a series of chance circumstances that lead to this terrible outcome.

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Cecchino da Verona, Judgement of Paris from The Penguin Book of Classical Myths

It all began at the great wedding of Peleus and Thetis. They had invited all the gods to the celebrations, except Eris, the goddess of discord. They feared that she would ruin the wedding, and so, even when she turned up uninvited, they refused to let her in.

Eris did leave, but not before she provided the discord that the couple had been so desperate to avoid. She threw a golden apple into the crowd of goddesses that was addressed “to the Fairest”.

Three goddesses all laid claim to the apple, each certain that they alone were the fairest and most beautiful. These were: Hera (Zeus’ wife and sister), Athena (Zeus’ daughter) and Aphrodite (rumoured to be Zeus’ other daughter, although her parentage is unclear).

They argued for quite some time over the apple before they decided to put the matter to Zeus, demanding him to choose one of them to be “the Fairest”. Zeus, however, simply refused to choose between the goddesses, and so ordered Hermes to escort them to Paris of Troy, who would choose for him.

Paris was a mortal man, but was considered by many to be the most handsome man on Earth. He’d been banished by his father from the city of Troy after his mother had a dream about Paris destroying the city, and had become a lonely shepherd, and therefore the perfect candidate to solve the dispute between the goddesses.

Upon reaching Paris, each goddess spoke of their own beauty, trying to win him over, but, when Paris still couldn’t decide, each goddess promised Paris a gift if he were to chose them to be “the Fairest”.

Hera, Goddess of Marriage and Children, promised Paris control over all of Asia; Athena, Goddess of War and the protector of Athens, promised wisdom and victory in all battles; and Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty, promised him a wife. She swore to him that he would be married to the most beautiful woman on Earth, Helen, who was already married to King Menelaus of Sparta.

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[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Paris instantly chose Aphrodite as the winner, and “the Fairest” of the three goddesses, and so, to fulfil her promise, she helped him to kidnap Helen and bring her back to Troy, so that she could be his wife.

Menelaus, outraged, declared war against Troy. It was thought that Paris had brought dishonour to Menelaus’ name through the capture of his wife, and so he rallied the Greek army together, and, in doing so, initiated the Trojan War.

Sources

March, Jenny. “The Trojan War.” The Penguin Book of Classical Myths, Penguin, 2009, pp. 294-389.
Wikipedia contributors. “Judgement of Paris.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 Jun. 2017. Web.

The Titans vs. The Olympians

I recently wrote a book review for The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood’s contemporary twist on the traditional tale of The Odyssey. The book evoked my old curiosity in the world of classical civilisations, so I’ve decided to write a series of non-fiction pieces describing some of the myths from the Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman worlds. As ever, thanks for reading.

The History

Cronus became the lord of the universe by helping his mother, Gaia, to overthrow Uranus, her husband. After this, Cronus reigned for many hundreds of years as the master and lord of everything. He commanded the other gods and treated humankind however he saw fit.

However, one day he heard of a prophesy that threatened this position. It stated that, one day, one of his children would overthrow him, just as he had once overthrown his father.

Rubens_saturn
Peter Paul Rubens [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Terrified that this would come true, Cronus swallowed (yes, swallowed. You read it right) his first five children as soon as they were born. They were, of course, immortal, and so he couldn’t kill them, but by swallowing them whole, he believed that he was trapping them forever.

When Rhea, his wife, grew pregnant for a sixth time, she was determined to avoid the same fate for this next child; so she fled to the island of Crete. It was here that she gave birth to her third son, and named him Zeus.

Needing to return to Cronus with a child that she had supposedly given birth to, Rhea left Zeus to be raised by nymphs as she returned with a rock wrapped tightly in a blanket. Cronus didn’t want to see his child; he swallowed the rock, thinking it was his son, without ever supposing that he might have been tricked.

When Zeus was fully grown, he returned to his father posing as a servant. He was determined to avenge his lost siblings, and so gave Cronus a cup of wine that forced his father to be violently sick.

Cronus regurgitated the rock that he’d swallowed in Zeus’ place, along with his five other children, now fully grown. Then, before Cronus had time to recover, his six children fled to Mount Olympus, which they claimed as their own and, in doing so, became the first Olympians.

The War

Joachim_Wtewael_-_The_Battle_Between_the_Gods_and_the_Titans_-_WGA25902
Joachim Wtewael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The six Olympians knew that their father would happily swallow them again if he was given the chance, and so they declared war on him and the rest of the Titans, who supported him. As well as wishing to protect themselves, Cronus’ children hoped that they could claim his power as their own.

The war, known as Titanomachia, was terrible, lasting for a total of ten years. When it first began, though, the Olympians were massively outnumbered by the Titans; this was until Zeus sought out the Hundred-handers and the Cyclopes that Uranus had long ago imprisoned.

The Hundred-handers were able to throw massive rocks at the Titan army, proving themselves to be great allies. The Cyclopes, meanwhile, were skilled craftsmen. They forged three weapons for the three of Cronus’ sons: Zeus was given a magical thunderbolt that could be thrown great distances; Poseidon was given a trident that could defeat any enemy; and Hades a helmet that possessed the powers of invisibility.

With these weapons, the Olympians finally defeated the Titans, and decided to punish them accordingly. They sent most to Tartarus, where they would be imprisoned for eternity, but Atlas, who had led the Titans into battle, was punished by being forced to hold up the sky with his bare hands, unable to ever move, lest he destroy the world. As for Cronus, they sent him to the Island of the Dead, where he later sent dreams from to guide Zeus from afar.

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Raphael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Poseidon, Hades and Zeus sectioned off the world into three parts; Poseidon took control of the seas, Hades the underworld, and Zeus the skies. As the sky is what covers all the world and universe, Zeus also became king of all gods and ruler of the universe, just as Cronus had once been.

The sisters of Zeus were given responsibilities, too. Demeter, the Goddess of agriculture and all growing things; Hestia, the Goddess of the hearth and the home; and Hera, marrying Zeus, became the Goddess of marriage and childbirth. The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus were then free to continue their family, untainted by the threat of Cronus and his Titans.

Sources

  • Karas, Michael and Charilaos Megas. “Titanomachy.” Greekmythology.com.
  • March, Jenny. “Creation.” The Penguin Book of Classical Myths, Penguin, 2009, pp. 21-51
  • Wikipedia contributors. “Titanomachy.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26. Jul. 2017. Web. 10 Aug. 2017.
  • Wikipedia contributors. “Twelve Olympians.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Web. 10. Aug. 2017.

“The Cat and the Moon”: Analysis

The Poem

The Cat and the Moon

By W. B. Yeats

The cat went here and there
And the moon spun around like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon
The creeping cat looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For wander and wail as he would
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnalousche runs in the grass,
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnalousche, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnalousche creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnalousche know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnalousche creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

The Message

The Cat and the Moon is, on the surface, about a cat trying to catch the moon. It’s been suggested that the cat in the poem was based on either Maud Gonne’s cat (the muse and love of Yeats), or his friend, Lady Gregory’s. However, it’s also about a dance between lovers (the cat here represents Yeats, whilst the moon would be Maud Gonne), and may also hint at the Romantic concept of mutability (this basically means ‘change’, but it’s an idea that the Romantic Poets latched onto in their works).

The Analysis

Metre & Structure

The poem moves rhythmically with a mainly iambic metre to accentuate the tone of a dance. A mixture of assonance and alliteration then gives it a soft tonality that matches the lyrical, child-like feel to it.

Line by Line

  • “The cat went here and there / And the moon spun round like a top,” – No matter what Yeats does, as he goes “here and there”, he cannot reach the moon (Gonne); she, meanwhile, “spun” in front of Yeats, which gives the impression that she’s almost laughing at him. Spinning also means that she would be constantly changing, the first link to the concept of mutability. This changing could be a reference to age, or else her revolutionary involvement. Yeats sees her everywhere he goes, but he can never reach her. There is a duality between Yeats’ movement and Gonne’s, the “and” pairing them; this could demonstrate how, in Yeats’ opinion, he and Maud belong together. Despite this, their movements are too different; one spins gracefully while the other darts “here and there”.
  • “And the nearest kin of the moon” – Hints at Yeats’ relationship with Iseult Gonne, Maud’s daughter. He sees her as a part of the dance, but she will always come second to Maud (this is shown by the preceding description of the moon in juxtaposition to Iseult’s reference).
  • “Creeping cat” / “Stared at the Moon” / “For wander and wail” – These phrases show Yeats’ general self-hatred; his love for Gonne controls him. He is always “creeping” towards her, even though the physical distance between them will always be too far. This demonstrates his acceptance of the fact that he will never be with Gonne, an idea also considered in “The Cold Heaven“.
  • “Animal blood” – Yeats bestialises himself as Minnalousche (thought to be the name of the cat Yeats based The Cat and the Moon on), perhaps to suggest that he is not in control of himself when it comes to Gonne – he is driven by his more primal instincts.
  • “Do you dance, Minnalousche, do you dance?” – This rhetorical question accentuates the idea that Yeats is questioning his attitude, as well as his future. He mocks himself, the repetition here amplifying the impression that the poem is actually a song.
  • “What better than to call a dance?” – This directly links “dance” to the poem. Yeats sees himself as taking part in a neverending dance.
  • “Maybe the moon may learn, / Tired of that courtly fashion, / A new dance turn.” – This is a contrast to earlier as Yeats hopes that Gonne will change and suddenly accept him as her lover. “A new dance turn” may also reference Iseult, as he considers his relationship with Maud’s daughter.
  • “From moonlit place to place” – Yeats reminds us of how his love for Gonne is eternal, haunting him wherever he goes, just like the moon. Yet, at the same time, it could be argued that he only feels the love some of the time, as the moon does not shine in the day.
  • “Change to change – In these few lines, as well as the final two, Yeats considers how he and Gonne will change over time (similar to how he wrote, “there is gray in your hair” in his “Broken Dreams”. It could also represent how he is beginning to resent his eternal love for her.
  • “Alone, important and wise,” – Yeats closes the poem with his self-praise, to perhaps reassure himself that he is not as weak and worthless as Gonne’s rejection makes him feel. The Cat and the Moon thus acts as a journey of Yeats’ acceptance of the situation; although he creeps through the grass after the moon, he sees himself as wise, because he knows that he has no choice.

Overview

The Cat and the Moon.JPG
My original analysis of this poem

The Cat and the Moon is, on the surface, one of Yeats’ less serious poems; because of its form and metre, it is almost impossible to read the poem in anything but a sing-song voice. Yet this poem still addresses big concerns that were quite important to Yeats. He thinks a lot about Maud Gonne, and her place, as well as her daughter’s, in his own dance. Overall, though, the poem represents change. It considers how people change, and how dances change.

Whether Yeats is accepting that, as he and Gonne change, their relationship may never prosper, or he is still hoping for “a new dance turn”, he is looking to the future in a somewhat positive way, particularly compared to some of his other poems, such as in “The Cold Heaven“. This leaves his readers on a positive note, which gives a satisfactory feel to the close of the poem.

Cold Hands

This piece of creative writing is for the purposes of the prompt challenge at Creative Writing Ink. Warning: it’s a bit dark.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy!


The breeze ruffled my hair as slipped across the sand, wrapping around me as though I were being caressed by some unknowable force. I allowed myself to lean back into it, eyes closed. It had been a long time since I’d been this close to the water. I could smell it in the air, the salt and the weed circling around me as if it was the sea, itself, that held me, its cold hands tight around me as I stared out across the open water.

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Credit: Saúl Venegas 

Before the sun had crept behind the Western hills, leaving a slight chill in its in wake, it had been one of the hottest days of the summer. I’d watched the beach from my upstairs window, gazing at it hour after hour as the people swarmed it like little ants, each one desperate to dig their own nest in the sand. They’d splash about in the sea and run around on the sand, playing games and laughing. They were all families – couples – children – people with so much life yet to live.

I sighed, continuing my steady walk to the shore.

I stopped just high enough so the water couldn’t reach me; it lapped the sand in front of me, greedily drawing back the little stones and burying them in its depths. It took so many of those little stones; it was always hungry, gobbling them all up, but never satisfied. It was like the beach, itself; people were drawn to it like the stones were drawn to the water. They huddled around it, because that’s what they’d always done, then they would submerge themselves in the water, as if hypnotised.

Not wonder not all the stones would come back.

Some of them stayed under the surface too long, even when their mother screamed and yelled, her heart seeming to explode with panic.

I’d never see some of those stones again.

11252580_359405844252383_916526901_nI smiled, despite myself, as I stepped forwards, the cool water sending shivers up my spine. It’s always hungry, I thought again, as I walked further into its depths. It’s always here and it never stops: merciless… crushing. What would it feel like to be trapped in these waters, trying to fight the current, but being just too weak to stay adrift? How much fear would a person feel as they realised that they were never going to resurface? What would they think as they sunk into oblivion, never to be held by their mother – never to laugh or run around on the sand – ever again?

I wasn’t scared.

I smiled again, leaning back into the ocean’s caress as I let it guide me away from my pain. Never again would I see such monstrosity when I looked into its waters. Never again would I fear it, because I had become it.