William Butler Yeats

(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939 / County Dublin / Ireland)

Crazy Jane Talks With The Bishop


I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.
'Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty.'

'Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul,' I cried.
'My friends are gone, but that's a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart's pride.

'A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.'

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Trochilus Tales (12/18/2008 2:03:00 PM)

    Rob,

    No, I think Crazy Jane is responding to his admonition that she is getting older and should

    'Live in a heavenly mansion,
    Not in some foul sty.'

    She rejoins that 'foul and fair are near of kin, ' indeed, inextricably related.

    The last two lines are quite vivid, are they not, with plays on both the words 'sole' and 'whole.' (Report) Reply

  • Rob Brennan (8/16/2006 1:01:00 AM)

    I don't think I really understand this poem. Is everything from 'My friends are gone..' to the the end spoken by the bishop? What do the last two lines mean? (Report) Reply

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