“Sailing to Byzantium” is a poem by W. B. Yeats. I’ve adopted it as the theme for this blog, because I like Yeats, and because I feel like the poem is appropriate.
The poem’s theme, Parker writes, is “the perfection of the human soul in a city of perfect and eternal art” yet he goes on to say “it soon becomes clear that the old man, who has but ‘come / To the holy city of Byzantium’ in the first two stanzas, merely implores in stanzas III and IV the powers of the city and imagines what will happen when his desperate prayer is answered” (Parker). “Sailing to Byzantium” deals with the nature of the human soul. As Karl Parker writes, the fate of the soul of the speaker is never confirmed. His soul may never reach into eternity. The hope in his fate lies in the monuments of art that inspired his journey. Others have succeeded before him; his task is not an impossible one. If he does succeed, then his promised song may inspire others to make the long journey as well.
To me, Yeats’s poem is ultimately about apotheosis, becoming one with the divine. The poem focuses on apotheosis through art, but that’s because Yeats is a poet. I see sailing to Byzantium as a metaphor for my own spiritual journey. Somewhere out there is the perfect city, my Byzantium, where I will be one with God–whatever that means. I’m not sure where it is or how to get there, but I’m working on it, and I’m not letting timidity keep me from sailing until I find it.