A Memory Of Youth Poem Analysis

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“A Memory of Youth”: Yeats and Erotic Experience
A cloud blown from the cut-throat north
Suddenly hid Love’s moon away.

The “cloud”—amorphous and obstructing—cuts into the scene, as well as the poem, with a sudden violence, in order to block the image of “Love’s moon”. The cloud itself cannot have definite dimensions, as it exists to only hide the moon, casting the speaker of the poem, his love and the cloud itself in a continuous darkness. It is in this darkness that the speaker of the poem finds his own perception and experiences clouded, indicating his blind submission to erotic love in lieu of a more illuminating, comprehensive “Love”. This erotic love—marked in this poem as a common noun—“brings forth” for the speaker a specific, romantic “wisdom”. With this wisdom, as well as his innate, genealogical “mother-wit”, the speaker sharpens his verbal …show more content…

By hiding the moon, which can be used to mark the passage of time with its cyclical phases, time itself becomes as equally amorphous as the cloud. Moreover, Yeats himself understood, in “The Symbolism of Poetry”, the moon to carry “memories” mixed with “her ancient names and meanings” (380). Thus, in hiding the moon, erotic love plunges the speaker and his lover into a world where histories, bearing the moon’s “ancient names and meanings”, are obscured, situating them in a world of their own. In the poem itself, time passes ambiguously. The poem is written largely in the past tense, with the title “[m]emory of [y]outh” indicating the speaker is aged and reflecting on the erotic love, as “moments passed” during his youth. The poem 's content points not to just a single memory, but an entire sexual affair from the speaker’s youth—chronicling the erotic encounters that would eventually lead to his lover’s “footfall light” and both of them “silent as a stone”. Thus the memory is also clouded by the nature of erotic

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