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Terms in this set (94)

1st stanza: The narrator, an old man, wishes to leave behind "that old country"—that is, the everyday material world obsessed with the flesh. By being caught in "that sensual music" (rhythm of the cycle-birth, maturity, death), we forget the things of the mind ("monuments of unageing intellect" that never grow old, unlike the physical body that does.
2nd stanza: The poet has embarked on a voyage of intellect it seems, to Byzantium. It is important that one knows of Yeats' thoughts on this hold city: he believed that Byzantium marked a golden age when the practical, religious, and aesthetic (appreciation of beauty) were mystically united. The "soul" represents this blissful unification and the "aged man" is a person whose mind has been starved.
3rd stanza: In this stanza, the poet appeals to the wise teachers of the past (the sages) to liberate his soul and spirit from his desire or physical needs, and to help him shed the material and unite himself with the intellect. He wants the sages to consume his heart, the seat of emotion, which is fastened to a dying animal (the material world that is merely temporary). "Perne in a gyre" means spinning in a spiral motion.
4th stanza: Once the poet has cast off the physical world, he wants something artistic and imaginative, something of the fantastical, "a form as Grecian goldsmiths make." Gold here symbolizes the beauty of art and the nature of eternity (gold does not tarnish). We have another fantastical image here: Yeats had read of another story, where artificial birds sang in the Emperor's garden. Nostalgia sets in as the poet wishes to relive the age of Byzantium, to regain that paradise lost.