Thursday, November 22, 2007

"A Cradle Song" by W.B. Yeats

A Cradle Song,
W.B. Yeats

(1st version)
The angels are stooping
Above your bed;
They weary of trooping
With the whimpering dead.

God’s laughing in Heaven
To see you so good;
The Sailing Seven
Are gay with His mood.

I sigh that kiss you,
For I must own
That I shall miss you
When you are grown.
(2nd version)

The angels are bending
Above your white bed,
They weary of tending
The souls of the dead.

God smiles in high heaven
To see you so good,
The old planets seven
Grow gay with his mood.

I kiss you and kiss you,
With arms round my own,
Ah, how I shall miss you,
When, dear, you have grown

This is a poem I have collected in my own gathering of favorite poems, but I had an earlier version (shown first). It’s interesting to compare the changes. The second version (the one in this anthology) is softer and sweeter but rather boring. I like the happier bounce of “God’s laughing in Heaven” instead of "God smiles in high heaven" and I much prefer “I sigh that kiss you for I must own that I shall miss you when you are grown” to "I kiss you and kiss you with arms round my own. Ah, how I shall miss you, when, dear, you have grown." Blegh! That's too saccharine sweet. I also like the snappier rhythm of the first. Just goes to show that rewrites are not always right. (I'm assuming the 2nd version is a later version.)
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