The Cat and the Moon

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  • The Cat and the Moon
    • Form
      • Assonance and alliteration are used to create the soft but swift movements and the lyrical, childish tone.
      • The poem is about a dance and therefore the poem moves very rhythmically and repetitively, making it sound like a song to dance to. The strong, simple use of rhyme also helps to build the rhythm.
      • mixed meter -- anapaest > iambic trimeter >anapaest
    • Context
      • Can be interpreted to be about Yeats’ relationship with Maud Gonne
      • Can be interpreted to be about the key Romantic idea of mutability
      • Can be interpreted to be about how events/people are forever linked whilst yet remaining separate entities (see yolk/egg white parable from Plato’s Symposium which is also alluded to in ‘Among School Children’).
      • In his autobiographyYeats stated that water to him meant lunar (lunar = all that is simple, popular, traditional and emotional)
      • Yeats had a play of the same name -- explained " a cat is disturbed by the moon, and in the changing pupils of its eyes seems to repeat the movement of the moon's changes, and allowed myself as I wrote to think of the cat as a normal man, and the moon as the opposite he seeks perpetually"
      • Aislings = a dream like vision poem in which the nation of Ireland is personified as a woman (here the dancer and the cat)
    • Quotes
      • GYRES: grows and diminishes- constant changes in the moon, a never ending cycle of nature, mutability- round to crescent.
      • Contrast– the cat and the moon. The cat is “Black”, while the moon is white. Black and white are naturally obvious opposites, and show the distance between the two objects.
        • Yeats may have been intending to convey to Maud that, although they are different in many respects, the cat and the moon are ‘close kindred’ and ‘nearest kin’.
          • ‘The cat went here and there / and the moon spun around like a top.’ Both movements can’t be synchronised and therefore as also shown in Among School Children –‘The yolk and the white of the one shell’. They are two things which belong together but cannot physically be as one because their parts/movements are so disparate.
    • Links
      • nature
        • The Stolen Child "Rocky Highland" "Leafy Island"
        • uses nature to express different thoughts, Leda and the swan presenting a gothic image of swans and Wild swans at Coole presenting the purer view on swan
      • The Stolen Child --"mingling hands and mingling glances"
      • Cold Heaven -- use of oxymoron - "pure cold light" with title of Cold Heaven


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