Lapis Lazuli poem summary line by line

Lapis Lazuli poem summary line by line

Lapis Lazuli poem summary line by line-Lapis Lazuli emerges as a poignant and contemplative poem skillfully composed by the distinguished Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, in 1938. Within this literary masterpiece, Yeats delves into profound themes, embracing art, life, and the quintessence of humanity. The titular reference to a vibrant blue gemstone becomes a central symbol throughout the poem, serving as a metaphorical lens through which Yeats explores the intricate interplay between enduring artistic expression and the tumultuous realities of the world.

Lapis Lazuli poem summary line by line

Lapis Lazuli poem summary line by line-Renowned for his adept use of imagery and metaphor, Yeats seamlessly intertwines Eastern and Western cultural references, presenting readers with a nuanced perspective on the coexistence of beauty, human suffering, and the timeless potency of creativity. As readers engage with the verses of "Lapis Lazuli," they are invited on a contemplative journey, meditating on the nature of art, the inevitability of human tragedy, and the solace found in enduring creations that transcend the chaos of the world.

Lapis Lazuli poem summary  

"I have heard that hysterical women say"

The speaker refers to the claim made by some hysterical women.

"They are sick of the palette and fiddle-bow,"

These women express weariness with art forms like painting (palette) and music (fiddle-bow).

"Of poets that are always gay,"

The complaint extends to poets who are consistently cheerful or happy.


"For everybody knows or else should know"

The speaker asserts that it is common knowledge or something everyone should be aware of.

"That if nothing drastic is done"

Unless drastic measures are taken.

"Aeroplane and Zeppelin will come out,"

Aircraft like aeroplanes and Zeppelins will emerge.

Alsp Read-

"Pitch like King Billy bomb-balls in"

They will descend and bomb, similar to how bombs were dropped by King Billy.

"Until the town lie beaten flat."

The town will be destroyed until it lies flat.

"All perform their tragic play,"

The speaker shifts to a broader observation, suggesting that everyone plays their part in life's tragic drama.

WhatsApp – 8130208920

"There struts Hamlet, there is Lear,"

Hamlet and Lear, iconic characters from Shakespeare's plays, symbolize various aspects of human experience.

"That's Ophelia, that Cordelia;"

Reference is made to Ophelia and Cordelia, characters associated with tragic outcomes in Shakespearean plays.

"Yet they, should the last scene be there,"

Despite the tragic nature of their stories.

"The great stage curtain about to drop,"

The climax is approaching, and the curtain is about to fall on the stage.

"If worthy their prominent part in the play,"

If their roles in the play are deemed significant.

"Do not break up their lines to weep."

The characters don't interrupt their lines to weep, showing a stoic acceptance of their fate.


"They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay;"

The speaker emphasizes that Hamlet and Lear, despite their tragic stories, are characterized by a certain level of joy or gaiety.

"Gaiety transfiguring all that dread."

This joy transforms or transcends the dread or sorrow in their stories.

"All men have aimed at, found and lost;"

All people have pursued, discovered, and ultimately lost something.

"Black out; Heaven blazing into the head:"

An abrupt transition, possibly indicating a blackout followed by a powerful vision of heaven.

"Tragedy wrought to its uttermost."

The highest level of tragedy has been realized.

"Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages,"

Even though Hamlet's actions may seem disjointed, and Lear expresses intense anger.


"And all the drop scenes drop at once"

All the scenes in the play come to an end simultaneously.

"Upon a hundred thousand stages,"

Reflecting the universality of the human experience, played out on countless stages.

"It cannot grow by an inch or an ounce."

Despite the multitude of experiences, the essence of the human condition remains unchanged.


"On their own feet they came, or on shipboard,"

People arrived by various means: on foot, on ships, camel-back, horse-back, ass-back, mule-back.

"Camel-back, horse-back, ass-back, mule-back,"

Different modes of transportation are reiterated, emphasizing the diversity of arrivals.

"Old civilisations put to the sword."

The reference to old civilizations being destroyed suggests a historical upheaval or conquest.

WhatsApp – 8130208920

"Then they and their wisdom went to rack:"

Following the destruction, both the people and their wisdom fell into ruin or disarray.

"No handiwork of Callimachus"

Callimachus, known for his craftsmanship, is contrasted with the subsequent destruction, suggesting a loss of artistic and cultural achievements.

"Who handled marble as if it were bronze,"

Callimachus is known for his skill in sculpting marble with a level of precision comparable to bronze.


"Made draperies that seemed to rise"

Callimachus's craftsmanship is described, particularly his ability to make draperies appear lifelike.

"When sea-wind swept the corner, stands;"

The draperies seemed to move when touched by the sea breeze.

"His long lamp chimney shaped like the stem"

Callimachus's lamp chimney is described, resembling the stem of a slender palm tree.

"Of a slender palm, stood but a day;"

Despite its beauty, the lamp chimney stood for a short time, emphasizing the impermanence of art.

"All things fall and are built again"

A philosophical reflection on the cyclical nature of creation and destruction.

"And those that build them again are gay."

Despite the inevitable cycles of creation and destruction, those who engage in rebuilding find joy in the process.

"Two Chinamen, behind them a third,"

Depiction of three Chinamen, possibly in a figurative or artistic representation.

"Are carved in Lapis Lazuli,"

The figures are carved from Lapis Lazuli, a blue gemstone.

"Over them flies a long-legged bird"

Above the Chinamen, a symbolic bird flies, representing longevity.

"A symbol of longevity;"

The bird is explicitly identified as a symbol of long life.


"The third, doubtless a serving-man,"

The third Chinaman is likely a servant, indicated by his role or appearance.

"Carries a musical instrument."

The serving-man carries a musical instrument, suggesting an element of cultural richness.

"Every discolouration of the stone,"

Details on the stone's imperfections are noted.

"Every accidental crack or dent"

Even unintentional flaws in the stone are observed.

"Seems a water-course or an avalanche,"

The imperfections are metaphorically likened to natural features like water-courses or avalanches.

"Or lofty slope where it still snows"

Another comparison, this time to a snowy slope, continues the metaphor.

"Though doubtless plum or cherry-branch"

Despite the imperfections, it is suggested that the stone still holds the beauty of a flowering plum or cherry branch.

"Sweetens the little half-way house"

The stone's beauty contributes to a metaphorical "half-way house."


"Those Chinamen climb towards, and I"

The Chinamen are climbing towards a symbolic destination.

"Delight to imagine them seated there;"

The speaker takes joy in imagining the Chinamen seated at their destination.


"There, on the mountain and the sky,"

The imagined location is on a mountain, surrounded by the sky.

"On all the tragic scene they stare."

The Chinamen, in the speaker's imagination, gaze upon a tragic scene unfolding below.

"One asks for mournful melodies;"

In the imagined scene, one of the Chinamen requests sorrowful music.

"Accomplished fingers begin to play."

Skilled musicians respond to the request, playing mournful melodies.

"Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,"

Describing the eyes of the Chinamen, emphasizing their aged appearance.

"Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay."

Despite their age, the Chinamen's eyes are described as ancient and glittering, suggesting a sense of joy or brightness.


Lapis Lazuli poem Themes

Cycle of Creation and Destruction:

The poem explores the cyclical nature of civilizations, art, and landscapes. Things fall, are destroyed, and then rebuilt, with the rebuilding process bringing joy.

Impermanence and Ephemeral Nature:

References to the short-lived nature of Callimachus's sculptures and the fleeting beauty of artistic creations.

Symbolism and Representation:

Symbolic elements such as the long-legged bird representing longevity and the carved figures depicting scenes and requesting music.

Human Connection to Art:

The poet takes delight in imagining the carved figures and their experiences, suggesting a profound connection between humans and art.

Imagination and Vision:

The poem highlights the poet's imaginative prowess, transforming discolourations and imperfections in the stone into vivid natural scenes and landscapes.


In conclusion, "Lapis Lazuli" stands as a thought-provoking and nuanced exploration of art, life, and the human experience by the eminent Irish poet William Butler Yeats. Written in 1938, the poem employs the metaphor of the lapis lazuli gemstone to delve into the intricate interplay between enduring artistic expression and the tumultuous realities of the world. With Yeats's masterful use of imagery and metaphor, the verses invite readers on a contemplative journey, prompting reflection on the nature of beauty, the inevitability of human suffering, and the enduring power of creativity to transcend the chaos of the world.


Q1: What is the significance of the title "Lapis Lazuli" in the poem?

The title "Lapis Lazuli" refers to a vibrant blue gemstone and serves as a central metaphor in the poem. It symbolizes the enduring nature of art and creativity in contrast to the transient and often chaotic realities of the world.

Q2: How does Yeats incorporate Eastern and Western cultural references in the poem?

Yeats seamlessly weaves Eastern and Western cultural references to convey a nuanced perspective on the coexistence of beauty, human suffering, and the timeless potency of creativity. These references add depth to the thematic exploration of the poem.

Q3: What themes does "Lapis Lazuli" explore?

The poem explores themes of art, life, and the human condition. It reflects on the enduring nature of artistic expression, the inevitability of human tragedy, and the solace found in creations that transcend the chaos of the world.

Q4: How does Yeats use imagery and metaphor in the poem?

Yeats employs vivid imagery and metaphor throughout the poem, with the lapis lazuli gemstone serving as a metaphorical lens to explore the relationship between enduring artistry and the tumultuous realities of the world. This adds richness to the poetic expression.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.