Time-waste-y and difficult though the Internet usually is, there are a very many wonderful things out there in cyberspace, one of which is Professor Nicholas Jenkins’s new poetry podcast, The Wave. The podcast is available (free!) via iTunes, and its maiden voyage features a conversation with Professor Eavan Boland on poet W.B. Yeats’s ‘Sailing to Byzantium.’ (I’ve included the text of the poem after the cut.)
iTunes-wise, I would also highly recommend the Book Salon series, a free podcast that’s part of Stanford’s iTunes U. The interviewers on Book Salon are occasionally a *wee* bit dull (What… is… this… er… book… … … about… ?… ???), but the topics and guests (many of them English faculty past and present) are, in my experience, generally pretty wonderful. As the name Book Salon may already have indicated to the prescient reader, these podcasts are about books and authors and ways of reading and talking about books. They’re generally no longer than fifteen minutes, so one can (if one wants) have a nice stroll to class while listening to something about Lawrence or Coetzee or Plath. Truly enjoyable *and* informative, I promise.
I’d also recommend having a bit of a putter around iTunes U if you haven’t already–lots of intriguing stuff, in video and audio form!
And here’s the Yeats poem:
‘Sailing to Byzantium’
William Butler Yeats (1928)
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.