Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

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"Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" is a poem by William Butler Yeats. It was published in 1899 in his third volume of poetry, The Wind Among the Reeds.

Commentary[edit]

The speaker of the poem is the character Aedh, who appears in Yeats's work alongside two other archetypal characters of the poet's myth: Michael Robartes and Red Hanrahan. The three are collectively known as the principles of the mind. Whereas Robartes is intellectually powerful and Hanrahan represents Romantic primitivism, Aedh is pale, lovelorn, and in the thrall of La belle dame sans merci.[1] (The character "Aedh" is replaced in volumes of Yeats's collected poetry by a more generic "he".)

Allusions[edit]

The poem was used in the films Equilibrium, 84 Charing Cross Road and the Korean film Dasepo Naughty Girls. The poem is recited by the character Brendan in the final episode of season 3 of the BBC series Ballykissangel. In Flagrante, a photographic book by Chris Killip, opens with the poem. John Irving uses the poem in the book A Widow for One Year. It is a recurrent metaphor in the relationship between a father and son in William Nicholson's novel The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life.

Text[edit]

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Musical settings[edit]

A musical setting of this poem is included in YEATS SONGS, a song cycle composed by Richard B. Evans.

The poem has been set to music by composer Z. Randall Stroope.

A slightly modified version of the poem also appears on the 1991 album Spin by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin (Rykodisc RCD 20213 / MIDI Records(1991)).

A setting of this poem is featured on Dancing In The Wind, a set of W.B. Yeats poems set to songs and harp music by Claire Roche.

A six-part choral/vocal setting of this poem is included in Three English Songs, by English composer Roger Hemingway. Three English Songs was originally composed for the King's Singers.

The Cranberries cite the last sentence of the poem in the song "Delilah" from their album Bury the Hatchet.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty (December 1968), "'Principles of the Mind': Continuity in Yeats's Poetry". Comparative Literature 83 (6): 882-889