Happy Birthday, Yeats

In honor of Yeat's birthday today, I thought I'd share a favorite poem, one that was instrumental in pulling together the plot of ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS.

I remember reading this as a young girl and loving it, though I couldn't comprehend its meaning at the time. I still love it - the powerful imagery, the horror, the seductive voice... I happened across the sculpture in Rome, at an exhibit on Eros at the Coliseum. Seeing it live was a true highlight of that trip, especially since I had just finished writing ATPG and I'd used the poem as a clue.

Stunning, powerful, evocative - that's my Yeats.


A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?