W.B.Yeats – The Cold Heaven

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this
Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season
With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken
By the injustice of the skies for punishment?

In this poem Yeats seems to be confused and this is reflected in the vagueness of the poem. The poem is romantic in style as it tries to transcend reason in order to focus upon emotion.

Oxymoron and Opposites

  • ‘Cold Heaven’ is the exact opposite of hell in terms of temperature.
  • ‘ice burned’ – this sounds doubtly torturous as both extremes of the temperature spectrum are explored.

Ending the poem with a question is a powerful device that reinforces the nystery of death and depiciton of the tortured soul released from its body but not from remorse. The final word of the poem is ‘pumishment?’ which is an idea that is central to the poem.

The modd of the poem is one of revelation and reflection, possibly remorse. Yeats’ own voice reflects upon the past and he blames himself for a failed affair of romantic love. There is a sense conveyed that he feels very much alone in accounting his past actions, and perhaps that we are all essentially alone in these matters.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. weloveenglishlit
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 11:20:33

    School Closure.
    I will put up the key points from the lesson we should have had today by the end of today in a new post on weloveenglishlit. Please check this out, and contact any other students in the class you have contact with to do the same. It is really important this work is attempted over the Easter holidays. Thank you. 🙂


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