It’s never too early to slight a recent dream,
never too late to step one-strided to the heights.
The earth and its catastrophes cannot restrain
a man from slurring silence into Speech.

And razor Light eviscerates the multitude,
and Music spires through the middle ear,
and eloquence is balanced drunk with Dance,
and Memory, that traveled tide, comes back.

by Ryan Dowling

Yeats on Love and Age and Rhetoric


When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


Polysyndeton is a rhetorical device consisting of the repetition of conjuctions such as “and,” “but” and “or.” The obvious function of polysyndeton is to join units of language (words, clauses, etc.) together, but it is also a stylistic feature that can affect the rhythm and pace of both poetry and prose.

This poem by Yeats—the first stanza in particular—is rife with polysyndeton. Note that the poem is written in iambic pentameter, and that the conjunctions always serve as unaccented syllables to aid in the rhythm.

Next, look closely at the poem’s punctuation: the only period occurs at the end of the poem. This makes it read as though it were one uninterrupted succession of thoughts and actions. Alongside his punctuation choices, Yeat’s use of polysyndeton helps him achieve this effect.

Finally, polysyndeton works to speed up the pace of the poem, giving the reader less of a breath between pauses.


Bukowski Had A Heart?



there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my booksales in
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

by Charles Bukwoski (1920-1994)

Check out this excellent recitation by actor Harry Dean Stanton Here.


Paralipsis is a rhetorical device by which a writer emphasizes or draws attention to something by either denying it or refusing to talk about it.

Throughout this poem, the speaker suggests that he’s a tough guy: he drinks and smokes, he doesn’t weep and he doesn’t like the idea that this bluebird could “mess me up.” The bluebird, then, becomes a symbol for the speaker’s inner sensitivity, which he conceals with a tough exterior. The speaker insists he’s “too tough” to expose the bluebird in his heart and is very careful about not letting people see it. However, the more the speaker denies and conceals the bluebird, the more he ultimately talks about it and reveals it to the reader. Also, notice how toward the end of the poem the speaker seems on the brink of telling us his secret: “and it’s nice enough to make a man weep.” Only, he backs out of the confession at the last second: “but I don’t weep.” This adds a final punch to the paralipsis element of the poem since it continues to play with revelation and concealment.