The River

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I saw The River on Broadway last weekend and fell in love with this poem. The play revolves around the idea of a man’s relationships with women and his obsession with catching the perfect fish. There is ambiguity in the play about time and space. The audience isn’t sure if the women are real, if the play is depicting one woman in the present and one from the past, or if one woman is reality and one is a fantasy. The poem is sung throughout the play by the women. The image of a “wand” for a fishing pole suggests a mystical element in the play. The “fire” in the man’s head also suggests that the cabin is a retreat from madness. On the other hand, the cabin is actually a place where a man can go mad–as they do in the woods in many Romantics/gothic poems and short stories.

The Song of Wandering Aengus

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
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