He Wished for the Cloths of Heaven and Love by George Herbert

Topics: Love, William Butler Yeats, Homelessness Pages: 6 (1593 words) Published: October 6, 2011
English Literature (Paper 1)
Candice Giselle Cutinha #313

‘He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ by W.B. Yeats deals with the theme of unrequited love and the poet has been able to bring out this aspect in such a vivid manner. He expresses his love by saying that if he had all the riches in the world, he would give them to the one he loved in order to show her how much she meant to him and since he isn’t rich, he gives her his dreams instead. The poem ends with some kind of a word of warning where the poet says he’s placed his dreams under her feet and she must be cautious lest she crush them. This poem comes across as a declaration of love where the poet has used rich imagery and metaphorically described the sky as a cloth. He paints a beautiful image of the sky as being ‘enwrought with golden and silver light”, golden during the day and silver with the light of the moon. The picture created in the mind of the reader of spreading the cloths under her feet, like a cloak, is a romantic and chivalrous one. The tone in the beginning of ‘Cloths of Heaven’ is one of exuberance as it describes a joyful, effervescent declaration of love but towards the end it changes to fearful as the poet considers that his love might be rejected. I believe this poem captures the pain of unanswered love which is capable of permanently wounding a person, hence to avoid being a victim of such a situation, Yeats is warning his love to be careful with his heart and dreams for he feels fragile and vulnerable in his declaration of love. George Herbert’s ‘Love’ on the other hand, explores his love for the Almighty. He draws attention to the fact that God is love. It shows God as a gracious host, perceptive and tolerant of the unavoidable failings of his honest followers, full of generosity and goodness, who overcomes all of objections to uniting ourselves with Him. The poet who is keen on meeting God holds himself back because he feels undeserving as a result of the sins he has committed, which strengthen his belief in the fact that is he not worthy enough to stand before the Almighty. God is portrayed to be so open, so loving and forgiving. All the poet’s protests are met with gentle persuasion, which is something that we all identify God’s loving nature with. Both the poems bring out different aspects of love. In ‘He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’, Yeats talks about romantic love and the pain one must bear if that love is rejected, while George Herbert’s ‘Love’ not only describes his love for God but also talks about the Almighty’s loving nature but also the beauty of his love for mankind. Yet, the underlying factor in both the poems is Love.

He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven – William Butler Yeats
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.

Love – George Herbert
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.
'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:'
Love said, 'You shall be he.'
'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.'
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
'Who made the eyes but I?'
'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.'
'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?'
'My dear, then I will serve.'
'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.'
So I did sit and eat.

Question 3

On this cold winter’s night

Only poor street children are in sight

She calls out to the man on the street
"Sir, can you help me?
It's cold and I've nowhere to sleep,
Is there somewhere you can tell...
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