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#3 Sunday Morning Poetry: Art as Religion

Happy Easter! On Sunday Morning Poetry #3 I'm reading the poem "Sailing to Byzantium" by William Butler Yeats. This is a poem often thought to be about Yeats' views on life after death. But I believe it's about

Art as a religion, and, specifically, about the idea of reincarnation or "resurrection in our natural lives. "The coward dies many deaths, but the brave man dies but once." Julius Caesar. How can we worship reincarnation if we are an humanist atheist? How can we appreciate the death and rebirth of our own selves? Well listen in. I'll be discussion: The story of Easter according to Christianity (Christ's resurrection) The story of Demeter The Rape of Persephone The story of Dionysus (Bacchus) The Eleusinian Myths Cicero The Dionysian festival And of course a converse with verse with Sailing to Byzantium.

Sailing to Byzantium


That is no country for old men. The young

In one another's arms, birds in the trees,

—Those dying generations—at their song,

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,

Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect

Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,

Nor is there singing school but studying

Monuments of its own magnificence;

And therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire

As in the gold mosaic of a wall,

Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,

And be the singing-masters of my soul.

Consume my heart away; sick with desire

And fastened to a dying animal

It knows not what it is; and gather me

Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take

My bodily form from any natural thing,

But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make

Of hammered gold and gold enamelling

To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;

Or set upon a golden bough to sing

To lords and ladies of Byzantium

Of what is past, or passing, or to come.