A New Dance Turn: 'The Cat and the Moon' All Up in One Another

7 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2014

Date Written: August 17, 2014


The semantic structure of Yeats' "The Cat and the Moon" is embodied through a syntactic and sound structure which also goes through phases, phases which complement that semantic structure. The first phase consists of two four-line sentences, each weakly rhymed ABCB. The second phase continues with four-line rhyme groups, but the rhymes are strong. Syntactically, there is a strong alignment between rhyme groups and syntactic grouping in the first phase while there is no obvious alignment between sound and syntax in the second phase of the poem, which also contains two rhetorical questions. The poem's third phase synthesizes the stylistic features of the first two phases. It has the synchrony of rhyme and syntax that characterizes the first phase; but the rhymes are strong and the penultimate sentence of the poem is a rhetorical question — features of the second phase. The poem thus embodies, in both sound and sense, the cyclic interpenetration of opposites which is its meaning.

Keywords: poem, Yeats, analysis, description, form

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., A New Dance Turn: 'The Cat and the Moon' All Up in One Another (August 17, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2481876 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2481876

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