Literature Analysis/He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

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Introduction[edit]

This is the second learning project of the Literature Analysis series that I have started so that the interested participants can get to study the concept of analyzing pieces of pros or poetry or both through live examples. This is an example of a love poem.

Aims and Objectives of the learning project[edit]

Aims[edit]

The aims of the learning project are:

  1. To give an easily understandable and a sufficient amount of analysis of a particular poem chosen from the English literature
  2. To try to generate an active interest among the readers for poetry

Objectives[edit]

The objectives of the learning project are:

  1. To analyse each stanza/line of the chosen poem for the tangible and the intangible meaning
  2. To understand the various tools of the English literature by understanding their applications and usage in the particular poem
  3. To understand the actual meaning of the poem
  4. To provide the steps for analyzing poetry

The Poem[edit]

The poem that will be analysed in this learning project is called ‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ and it has been written by a poet called William Butler Yeats, more commonly known as W.B.Yeats.

He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Had I the heaven's 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.

The poem has been taken from a website whose IP address is as follows: http://www.cise.ufl.edu/~hsiao/verse/cloths.html

The whole poem is a first person narration of a man who is talking about his love for someone. The poem is in two stanzas of 4 lines each.

Stanza 1[edit]

Had I the heaven's 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,

The poem starts with a claim that a man, the poet, makes that he wish he had the heaven’s embroidered cloths. The concept of heaven’s embroidered cloths refers either to pieces of textile which are extremely pretty and of the highest quality or to a lucrative position, which gives either power or money or both, that has been obtained from building up in a particular career. He then describes the beauty of these highest quality premium products that he so yearns to possess. These cloths would be decorated with gold and silver light. The gold and silver light may be the lustre of various shiny pieces that have been stitched to the cloths to make them look more attractive. Or maybe they are the various privileges or perks that the poet would have due to his career such as a big house, a nice salary etc. The poet then goes on about having more of such cloths that come in varying colours such as the blue, dim coloured shade and dark colour. This would give multiple impressions about the cloths that are getting talked about. Firstly, the cloths may be some extremely attractive and high quality textile merchandise which is used to prepare clothing. Secondly, the cloths may be different types of careers which give a status & position of power and money. This position would be able to pay up for the expenses and fuel a happy life. Thirdly, the cloths may refer to actual scenery of the sky which might represent a happy life that the poet would like to share. A life which may or may not be due to a successful career but is joyous enough for the poet and he is content with it. The last line of the stanza indicates the various times of the day that is the night, the day and the dawn & dusk time respectively. This line pushes the understanding of the reader about the cloths towards the first point of view i.e. the cloths are of high quality and resemble the shades of the sky during the different times of the day. But when given a deeper analysis, may be the last line also means the different levels of the position of the job post that the poet may want to be at so long the job is lucrative and coveted. This stanza describes what the poet considers to be priceless for him. The Rhyming does not take place but same words are repeated in the first and third line and in the second and fourth line that is cloths and light respectively.

Stanza 2[edit]

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.

The poet then says that these cloths he will spread under someone’s feet. The generic meaning of this line is that whatever the poet wants to have, which he really values very much, he will very willingly present it to the person whom he is addressing. We can assume that this person would be his love interest. He would leave such high quality cloths at the disposal of his beloved. Or maybe he would want to marry and have a life with his love interest after getting to that job post & profile which he considers so prestigious. Then the poet says that he being poor only has his dreams not the cloths that he talked about in the first stanza. This means that despite expressing his love for her by stating this fact that he is willing to sacrifice something which he holds so dear only to impress her, he does not have any such thing in his possession yet. He only has his dream which means that he only has his will & desire to express the quantum of his love to impress his love interest. He then says that he has spread his dreams under his beloved’s feet. This means that he has expressed his great and intense desire to give up those items that he considers being his most prized possession or may be like to build a life with her after getting a job which he considers to be too good to be true. This action itself should testify for the undying love that he has for his beloved as he does not have those prized items or the prestigious job profile. In the last line he requests her to tread softly as she is now walking on his dreams instead of the heaven’s embroidered cloths What he wants to convey is that now that his beloved is aware of his desires and sentiments for her, she should replicate his sentiments and love him back with just the same levels of fervour as he loves her. This stanza talks about the reason that has driven the poet to write this poem i.e. is to show his love for someone whom he knows. The Rhyming does not take place but same words are repeated in the first and third line and in the second and fourth line that is feet and dreams respectively.

Conclusion[edit]

This poem is a subtle acknowledgement of the intense amount of love that the poet has for someone. This sentiment has made him too obsessed about her. He is too much in possession of his desire to impress her and for this he, at first, describes something that he considers to be too good to be true. Something which is totally priceless, whose value cannot be measured in gold and which must be kept in a safe and secure place at all times. He then says that if he had such an item then he will lay it down at her feet. This clearly shows that the desire to impress her outweighs the price of that priceless item. Then he admits that he does not have such an item in his possession to squander it away, he only has his willingness to win over his beloved. And so after this admittance, she must be careful towards him as he hopes that rather than to shun him and ignore him, she will take notice of him and love him back. It can be classified as a romantic poem which ends on cautioning note.

There is a website which the readers can check up if they want to know more about how to analyse a poem in a sequential and orderly manner: http://www.wikihow.com/Analyze-Poetry

Assessment[edit]

I have given a few questions below for those who are interested in getting their knowledge tested after going through the content:

  1. What is the name of the poem and the poet?

W.B. Yeats

  1. Would you like to memorize the poem?
  2. Please identify the Rhyming sequence of each of the four stanzas of the poem?
  3. What do you think about the obvious and the hidden meaning of the poem?
  4. What, in your opinion, was the poet going through or would have gone through when he wrote this poem?
  5. What are the different types of poetic tools used in the English literature?
  6. What poetic tools have been used in this poem?
  7. Do you relate to the theme of the poem If yes, why? If no, why not?
  8. Did this learning project make you like reading up more poetry?
  9. Would you like to take up literature analysis as a hobby?

Prepared and uploaded by Raman Kumar