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A Fine Line Between Body And Soul

4 Pages 886 Words

In many different philosophies, the symbol of Yin-Yang can be described as two inseparable polar opposites or complementaries, the interaction between which determines phenomenal reality. However, one will eventually lead into another in an endless cycle. The interactions and balance of these forces in people and nature influence their behavior and fate. In many ways, William Butler Yeats’s “Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop” can be compared to these symbols. The poem offers contrasting views on body versus spirit, physical versus emotion and sex versus love.
“Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop” is a short poem. The first stanza places Crazy Jane and the Bishop in a chance meeting on a road. The Bishop rebukes Crazy Jane for her promiscuous lifestyle and urges her to make amends. In the third and fourth lines, the Bishop suggests that, after all, her body is old now: “Those breasts are flat and fallen now/Those veins must soon be dry.” Soon her body will die, so she should ignore her body and emphasize her soul. The next two lines suggest that she should change her immoral ways and stop living in filth; “Live in a heavenly mansion/Not in some foul sty.” The Bishop is letting her know that in order to go to heaven she needs to get out of that ugly sty.
Crazy Jane answers back in the last two stanzas. She notes in line seven and eight, “Fair and foul are near of kin/And fair needs foul.” She is telling the Bishop that in order to be a good person you have to experience the bad. The word “fair” represents her beauty and “foul” being her ugly side. She admits she’s old and her friends are either sick or have died; “My friends are gone, but that’s a truth/Nor grave or bed denied.” But her experience with both physical reality (“bodily lowliness”) and spirituality (“heart’s pride”) has given her insight—she is “learned.” The third stanza asserts that one has to undergo what some may s...

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