The Circus Animals' Desertion
How we cite our quotes:
Now that my ladder's gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start (3.6-7)
After soaring through the skies with giants and reveling in dancing circus animals, it takes true guts to be willing to go back down to the bottom of the ladder (which happens to be at the top of a trash heap). But hey, a poet has to follow his vision – even if that vision leads him straight down into the dirt.
Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. (3.2-6)
Sure, it takes dedication to craft a beautiful poem out of nothing, but then think how much more strength it takes to turn back to the ugly and less-than-perfect origins of that same poem. Pretty much everyone we know would rather remember the nice stuff, the easy stuff. It's only a real fighter who chooses to look his ugly truths straight in the eye.
What can I but enumerate old themes, (2.1)
Okay, now we're at the start of the speaker's quest. Remember how queasy you felt about going through your old love letters or those embarrassing emails you sent when you were mad at your best friend? Well, we're betting that's just like what Yeats's speaker is going through right now, looking back at what he wrote when he was younger.