A Better Endings Yeats Poem about Building Bridges of Understanding

Driving home from spiritual activities the other day a poem came to mind and I realized this poem is very appropriate to this year’s “better endings” theme of Building Bridges. It is a poem by William Butler Yeats, long one of my favorite poets, so much so that I memorized several poems from The Selected Works of W. B. Yeats when I was in my late teens and these poems continue to inform and nurture my life nearly 40 years later.  The poem is “Words.” Notice the Better Endings theme in Yeats’ effort to communicate effectively to his beloved:

 

From memory 1/19/20:

Words

By William Butler Yeats

I had this thought a while ago:

My darling cannot understand

What I have done or what would do

In this blind, bitter land.

And I grew weary of the Sun

Until my thoughts cleared up again,

Remembering that the best that I have done

Was done to make it plain;

That at length I could cry,

At last my darling understands it all,

Because I have come into my strength,

And words obey my call.

That had she done so,

Who can say what might have

Shaken from the sieve?

I might have thrown poor words away

And been content to live.

I can so relate; can you? I feel that building pathways of understanding is the very basis of human experience.  Whether through art, poetry, fictional narrative, memoire, or basic day-to-day conversation, through language and other expressive forms we communicate, either more or less effectively, and perhaps more or less in a reciprocal fashion as well. We listen and we share. Listening probably should always come first, even listening to our own thoughts as well as to what the other is truly sharing, so we can communicate truly, not just remaining stuck in our own ideas.

This is a key to unlocking schismogenesis or downward-spiraling discord, this month’s topic.  Communication, to be true, must forge a bridge of mutual understanding and mutual acceptance.

Maybe even Yeats could have added how his ardent desire to express himself fully to his beloved would benefit from listening well to what his beloved was also aiming to express to him. Communication is a two-way process, not one sided.

So, life is art, art is life. By that I mean, day to day we strive to express and to understand one anothers’ expressions.  As such we move forward, rather than being entrenched. As such we may yet proclaim, ‘Ahah!’ when we finally hear another’s thought or viewpoint as their art form, with genuine appreciation. Perhaps only by so doing may we overcome barriers to harmony and mutual growth in the human community.  Would that the political discourse of the day would share that better endings goal!

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