Under Ben Bullben
On pages 2047 through 2050 is a poem by William Butler Yeats called “Under Ben Bullben”. Throughout this poem I believe that Yeats is concerned with his own death and the preservation of quality Art. He discusses the work of artists past and considers art to be a holy practice saying that art can “Bring the soul of man to god” and calling it the “Profane perfection of mankind”.
As the poem goes on his concerns become clearer as he addresses the new breed of artist who has and shall come after him.
Irish poets, earn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.
Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after
Porter-drinkers' randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into the clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indomitable Irishry.
I feel that Yeats is not pleased with the work of the new young Irish artists “Scorn the sort now growing up”, “the sort” being new artists. I believe that he felt like they had lost the sense of Irish artistic tradition that was shown by his forefathers “All out of shape from toe to top”. He seems to feel as though the heritage of his country has been forgotten “Their unremembering hearts and heads”. He has hopes for the future of Irish artists and their work; saying “That we in coming days may be still the indomitable Irishry.”
As I read through this poem I felt like Yeats was the proud father of an ungrateful child. The father has such high hopes for his offspring but he is continuously let down. He wants so desperately for his legacy and that of those who came before him to continue on. However, he doesn’t like the path that his children are taking and he pleads for them to change their ways so that the...