Broken Dreams is a complex poem that conveys ideas regarding afterlife, death, loss, power, passing of time and a woman’s beauty.
Yeats discusses about the beauty of a woman who has grown old now. He features his distinctive affections for her using different images of the woman from different stages of life. In the poem, he talks about her excellence and even her imperfections being perfect. The poem is almost like his thoughts being recorded on paper- when one considers, one doesn’t really plan to compose and sort thoughts, but just tries to get them out.The opening line of the poem “There is grey in your hair” presents the message of change and decay at an early stage. It features the unflattering truth of ageing and furthermore exhibiting the possibility of death and decay. Yeats implies that no young men “catch their breath” and therefore fall for the woman because neither the woman nor the poet is young anymore. Then the poet refers to himself as an “old gaffer” which sounds quite personal and conversational.
He additionally proposes that his adoration for this lady goes beyond physical inspirations. The poet features that it was her prayer that “recovered him upon the bed of death”. Apparently she is both religious and generous and concerned about others. The word “sole sake” hints that the entire poem is based on the concept of dreams, also alluding to sleep, reflective of the themes of loss and death that are prevalent in “Broken Dreams”. For her sole sake, she puts on “burdensome beauty”.
Burdensome means stressful, oppressive.The beauty is seen as burden here as the ageing will seem even more damaging to the beholder of it. As the woman grows older, she started losing her beauty with age and hence her own beauty become stressful for her. Despite her burdensome beauty, the poet describes her as alluring, in light of the fact that she brings “peace” to others by her presence.
This reflects her inner beauty that makes people surrounding her happy and grateful. The now-faded perfect beauty of her youth inspires memories in those who view her now, including the speaker. The repeated message, “vague memories, nothing but memories” ties in with the idea of “dreams” from the title and implies how Yeats still recalls woman’s youth and beauty, regardless of whether it doesn’t exist in reality any longer.
Indeed, the whole poem is an exercise of just such memory; it exemplifies the very memory it discusses. The line “When age might well have chilled his blood” reveals that the Yeats’ love for the lady is somehow ruined by his old age, demonstrating the power of loss and decay. It also reveals the faithfulness of Yeats, however, as he is saying that, even in his last days, he will be loving and remembering the lady in his dreams.But in the grave all, all, shall be renewed.The certainty that I shall see that ladyLeaning or standing or walkingIn the first loveliness of womanhood,And with the fervour of my youthful eyes,Has set me muttering like a fool. Here the poet imagines that the woman, in the afterlife in heaven, will be seen once more in her youthful beauty and indeed that his own vision of her will be renewed after he himself dies. The first line of this stanza, “But in the grave all, all, shall be renewed” links to the line ‘gather me into the artifice of eternity’ (‘Sailing To Byzantium’).
Both these lines from two different poems signifies that everyone has to die one day. Meanwhile, the poet understands that he has to die to know the truth and immortality. In “Broken dreams”, Yeats says he will be together with the woman again only after he dies. He perceives that the death changes everything. He needs to be youthful to better value her beauty.
Yeats does not yet have these “youthful eyes”, though; he is an “old gaffer” “muttering” and dreaming of the lady. However, he is still so much in love with her that despite of her old hands, he wants her to remain unchanged even in the heaven. He considers her the most beautiful lady.
Her qualities described in the poem beatifies her, yet is neutralised by the presence of a “flaw”. It makes her beauty transient and more precious. In the last lines of the poem, Yeats makes a reference to the “always brimming lake” – probably he is referring to the lake of youth and the phrase “stroke of midnight”, reflects the cycle of life that how the person is born and then has to die one day. Yeats find himself near to the end of life. The phrase “In rambling talk with an image of air” reflects his growing aged nature and therefore, he is not able to show his feelings through his writing on the piece of paper.In this whole poem, Yeats combines his own fears about death. “Broken” proposes that he has surrendered all expectation on his fantasies.
“Broken” additionally proposes that his fantasies to not fit together simply like him and the lady. Notwithstanding, in conclusion, it could be esteemed that all through this poem he acknowledges the way that their relationship was something of the past and acknowledges there is no reason for seeking after something that is as of now lost or even “broken”.