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By B. G. Hewitt

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It is from Eve's curse that Maud Gonne has suffered. Her silence in this conversation poem is used to great effect a counterpoint, like the "moon, worn as if it had been a shell", which undermines the speaker's masculine complaints. In the second stanza of "Subject for a Lyric", the semi-lineated prose draft written about 1901, Yeats's equivocal attitude towards marriage is both acknowledged and absolved: o my beloved. How happy 1 was that day when you came here from the railway, & set your hair a right in my looking glass & then sat with me at my table, & #\e [then] lay resting in my big chair.

Hanrahan has "reckoned up every unforeknown, unseeing / Plunge, lured by a softening eye, / Or by a touch or a sigh, / Into the labyrinth of another's being". The sexual character of the plunge and the essential nature of the labyrinth are unambiguous and the image is now entirely positive. Having measured himself against his creation,68 Yeats is doubly self-accused of weakness, cowardice, failure to act: the sole qualification is the repeated conditional, "if ... if". He insists that the woman was "lost" not by any action of her own, but through his own failure to act: "Cowardice, some silly, over-subtle thought / Or anything ca11ed conscience once".

59. 37 in shades, void of all understanding, precipitous and sinuous, for ever winding round its own blind depth, eternally in marriage with a body that cannot be seen, inert land] lifeless" - The Chaldean Orades (London and Benares: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1908) H, 86-7. Yeats had owned this version: see Edward O'Shea, "The 1920s Catalogue of W. B. Yeats's Library", YA 4 (1986).

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