Wednesday, 15 June 2011


A critical analysis of the poem "He wishes for the cloths og Heaven" by W.B Yeats...

HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

The poem “He wishes for the cloths of heaven” by W.B Yeats, is one in which there is a noticeable change of mood at one point. The poet uses a variety of words and statement  to show this.

In the first five lines of the poem, he expressed his love for the woman of his dreams Maud Gonne as the poem was written for her. Here, the poet talks about all the real and unreal things he isready to adorn her with. He tells her of how much of a treasure she is to him. He would beautify her with “the cloths of heaven” He wishes he could give her all to glorify her beauty but in the real world it is unattainable.

In the last three lines of the poem, the poet comes back to reality as he spoke about the outward but now speaks inwardly. He says that he cannot bring the perfection of heaven to the woman rather he would give her his dreams. He ends the poem with a warning note as she never can tell what her actions would do to his dreams so she should tread upon it softly.

In the first two lines, the poet talks about the beauty of heaven, colours and lights

“Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths

Enwrought with golden and silver lights”

The poet makes it known to the woman he loves. He says here that if he had the well tailored cloths of heaven, how glorious and beautiful would they be? In reference to the word “heaven” a beautiful picture is created as heaven signifies perfection. As he wishes for the cloths, so does he wish he could gain the love of the woman which is unattainable. The poet then goes on to speak about the cloths been covered with golden and silver lights. The lights signify the beauty of the heavenly bodies the sun and moon even as they both give lights at different times of the day, so will she be an illuminator of light. This also brings an idea of perfection and worth. The fact that the Gold and silver metals are of great value on earth, the heavens cloths are adorned with the bright light.

Yeats then goes on to give a detailed description of the cloths and how magnificent it looks.

“The blue and dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-lights”

The colour blue, being mentioned in the line, introduces the thought of holiness as it creates a sense of purity and religious admiration. We begin to see the cloths from a religious perspective as the poet likens it to the woman blasphemously.

The poet speaks about “the dim and the dark”. The poet use of alliteration is effective as it creates a pleasant picture of the different beautiful colours being combined together to give an unimaginable beauty. The colour also gives a description of the sky. Her beauty is one which could be related and ascribed to the sky. The poet begins to talk of “nights and light and half-light”, the poet also reinforces the beauty of the light and sky and its relation to the cloths. The picture of an unquenchable, radiating and glowing cloth is created.

Yeats speaks about what he would offer her and how it would be offered to her.

“I would spread the cloths under your feet”

If only he could attain the cloths of heaven, and give it to her, a cloth as precious as the most valuable metals, in all its beauty, he would lay it on her feet. This also reinforces the idea of religious worship. He would graze her feet with it. He would adore and elevate her whilst at her feet. This shows how much in love he feels on the inside for this woman that he would place her on a pedestal.

The tone of the poem changes drastically, at this point as he returns to reality. In the last three lines , the poet refers inwardly and pleads with the woman he loves.

“But I being poor, have only my dreams

I have spread my dreams under your feet”

The poet says here that as he cannot afford to give her all of the beauty and treasures of heaven, he would give her his dreams; as his dreams are very important to him. As humans, our dreams should be important to us. For the poet to spread his dreams under feet, he is giving himself to the woman. The dreams of the poet, are the same dreams which created the cloths of heaven and giving them to her, gives us an idea of how highly and worthy he thinks of her.

The poet ends the poem with a note of warning to the woman he loves.

“Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”

He is telling the woman to be careful on how she treads for she treads on his dreams. He asks her to be careful on how she rejects him and his advances towards her. She should treat him with consideration and not leave him forlorn. Her constant rejections, could wreck his life.

The poem is worded so engaging and beautifully as it looks like a complex and heavy woven poem and this could be treated as the beautiful cloths  of heaven themselves which is almost unimaginable yet clearly structures in our minds.

Yeats rhymes every word at the end of a line with the same word as the line down. This reinforces the idea in our subconscious mind as the image of cloths, lights, feets and dreams, are firmly created in our minds  


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. really helped me to understand the poem! great blog! thanks!