"No country, this, for old men."


This quote alludes to the first words of the poem by Irish poet, W B Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium: That is no country for old men.

The poem explores the themes of old age, the relationship between life and art, and the nature of spirituality. It describes the imaginative journey of an ageing man to Byzantium, the ancient city and symbol of art and civilisation. Once there, he calls on the sages to help him free his soul from the natural world, and allow it to live on through art for the rest of the eternity.

The issues addressed in the poem are often seen as deeply personal to Yeats and reflect his search for spiritual truth, as he grew older.


To listen to Sailing to Byzantium, via Spotify, click here.


The National Library of Ireland has a comprehensive on-line exhibition, detailing Yeats' life and works, inclusing information and analysis of Sailing to Byzantium. The exhibition can be accessed via this link.





This pencil drawing of Yeats is by John Singer Sargent. Sargent is also mentioned in Disgrace (see page 154).