English 150 Recitation Lesson Plan: Who Goes with Fergus? by W.B. Yeats

Alexandra Allen
English 150
Wednesday 16 October 2013, 6 p.m. section

I. Context

II. Recitation

Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood's woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.

And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love's bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all disheveled wandering stars.

III. Key Questions

  1. When I first read this poem I read it thinking that Yeats was telling us to "brood" and ponder about love or a specific loved one. However, after reading the poem a second time, and in a different way, it seems Yeats is commanding us to stop "brooding" and turn away from the love that makes us suffer so much. Which way do you think makes the most sense? Why? What other lines in the poem support your reasoning?
  2. The idea of "love's bitter mystery" was brought up briefly in lecture but what is Yeats trying to say with this phrase? Is anyone supposed to know the bitter mystery of love, or do we only know its mystery when we are in love?