The Pity of Love by W.B. Yeats
performed by Bob Geldof
A pity beyond all telling
Is hid in the heart of love:
The folk who are buying and selling,
The clouds on their journey above,
The cold wet winds ever blowing,
And the shadowy hazel grove
Where mouse-grey waters are flowing,
Threaten the head that I love.
Interpretation by Kate Griffin
I love the simplicity of this poem. Yeats tells us in the first line that he can’t explain the feelings, “A pity beyond all telling”, you have to have felt them yourself to understand. This makes sense to me as the language isn’t always available to express emotions. Perhaps to reflect these more instinctual thoughts he chooses simple language and a simple rhyme scheme using nature as his imagery.
Despite the desperation of the poem I feel sympathetic rather than pitiful for the poet. The use of weather and nature reflect his pain in the grey imagery they convey, however they are not threatening towards him. They appear to be more of a reflection of mood rather than active participants or creators of his desperation and sadness. This is almost a comfort, as the emotions he finds so hard to express through language are projected and reflected in nature around him.
Kate Griffin teaches English Language and Literature to Secondary School students at Langley Grammar School in Slough. She particularly enjoys teaching when her students make her think about something in a different way.