In Memory of W.B. Yeats
How we cite our quotes:
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate; (48-49)
War is on the horizon, and Auden is staring it straight in the face. These lines seem to be calling out the poem's readers. Yeats could see it. Auden sees it. What's keeping the rest of the world from realizing how screwed up their current situation is?
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye. (51-54)
There's no grand transformation at the end of this poem. Yeats doesn't work wonders and magically change the world into a shiny, happy place. Things are pretty much as bleak as when Yeats began to write. But that doesn't mean his work wasn't valuable, as the end of the poem suggests.
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise. (64-65)
See? There's still hope out there. Even after Yeats's death, his poems can continue to influence new readers. That's a version of immortality, even if it's a conditional one.