In Memory of W.B. Yeats
by W.H. Auden
In Memory of W.B. Yeats Death Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day. (5-6, 30-31)
Auden's language here seems to suggest all of the minor traditions and procedures that we use to measure someone's passing: the time, heartbeat, and other small significant details that we can determine. Latent in his phrasing, however, is the sense that there are things that can't be determined by our reason or technologies.
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty, (14-15)
Yeats's body becomes its own city in this metaphor – a suddenly vacant space that seems, well, just a little bit eerie. Perhaps that helps convey the strangeness and suddenness of his passing. After all, empty cities don't appear all that often, do they?