An Aged Man

“An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing for every tatter in its mortal dress…” …William Butler Yeats

I’m a lover of the Poets and their ability to cram so much meaning into a few words. I first heard the above quote from the late Dr. Wayne W. Dyer years ago on one of his PBS Specials and it has remained with me throughout the years. I don’t know much about the great Irish Poet William Butler Yeats. Therefore, I will not try to decipher the thoughts he was thinking when he wrote Sailing to Byzantium from which this quote is taken.

Yeats in his early maturity photographed by Charles Beresford.

That being said, we don’t have to guess what the poem is about. Yeats himself writing in a draft script for a 1931 BBC broadcast wrote: I am trying to write about the state of my soul, for it is right for an old man to make his soul, and some of my thoughts about that subject I have put into a poem called Sailing to Byzantium.

“Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality, and dying in the end?” …Jesus, in A Course In Miracles

Even though Yeats was only in his early sixties when he wrote Sailing to Byzantium in the above BBC draft script he referenced himself as an old man. So, it seems he already considered himself to be aged. And the illusion we refer to as death was probably beginning to occupy his awareness more and more.

In the same draft script he mentioned the city of Byzantium (now Istanbul) and said he symbolized the search for the spiritual life by a journey to it. As I mentioned above I’m not going to try to decipher the thoughts he was thinking when he wrote this poem. Even so, I’m going to analyze a bit of it and express my own perception of it.

I think he had reached a crossroad in his life and was beginning to see the flesh, especially aged bodies, as it really is even though he described it very poetically: A paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick. But he didn’t leave it at that for he added the conjunction, unless and followed it up with, Soul clap its hands and sing. It’s my belief that his vision was being drawn away from the flesh and he was in the process of recognizing the Spirit.

Sailing to Byzantium was first published in 1928, which is 48 years before A Course in Miracles came into existence. Meaning that Yeats never read The Course but I believe he was aware of the truth that Jesus talked about in the above ACIM quote. He was aware that it’s none other than madness to believe that life begins at conception, or birth, whichever you prefer and ends at that which we refer to as death.

“You cannot walk the world apart from God because you could not be without Him. He is what your life is. …ACIM

As mentioned earlier Yeats symbolized Sailing to Byzantium as a search for the spiritual life. He made the same mistake that thousands upon thousands are still making. There is no such thing as a spiritual life or a physical life or any other special types of life. There is only God and God is Love and Love is Life and you are part of It. There is no other life.

We call this physical experience life but it is not Life, it is an experience and has absolutely nothing to do with the beginning or the ending of Life. Life never had a beginning nor will it ever have an ending. It is eternal, it always was and it will always be. You are an eternal Spiritual Being, an extension of God, of Life, of Love and you did not begin nor will you end with this physical experience we so erroneously refer to as life.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t different degrees of physical experience. Some people go through this experience happily and joyfully most of the time while others experience it without much joy at all.

The Course is quite adamant in its teaching that this world is not real. For example, in Lesson 132 we read: “There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release. Change but your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly.” This is just one example. The Course is filled to the brim with teachings that this world and your experience in it is nothing but a dream. It’s all an illusion and the purpose of illusions is to cause something to seem real by covering up the truth.

The thing that causes all the difference between a happy experience and an unhappy one is who you accept as the dreamer of the dream. This point cannot be over emphasized for the happiness or unhappiness of your physical experience is determined by this belief. If you accept your Self as the dreamer then you have the ability to dream happy dreams. But if you believe the world is doing the dreaming then you make of yourself a figure in someone else’s dream with no recourse but to be the receiver of someone else’s unhappiness. As Jesus tells us in The course: “He cannot choose to waken from a dream he did not make. Helpless he stands, a victim to a dream conceived and cherished by a separate mind.”

“You are the dreamer of the world of dreams. No other cause it has, nor ever will.” …ACIM

Heaven Itself awaits you when you can finally accept the truth that you are the dreamer and not a figure in someone else’s dream. If you can fully accept the truth that your part in this world is a dream and you are the dreamer then you have awakened to the point where you know it’s a dream. You’re now free to do as Neale Donald Walsch advises in this image-quote: “Let it be the dream of a lifetime.”

The truth is, you are in control of your physical experiences and you have been in control of them since time began. To believe otherwise is to deny the truth of what you are and to accept the ego’s version of yourself. The ego teaches that you are a powerless little physical being separated from the rest of creation and alone against a hostile world. The Holy Spirit teaches that you are an extension of God. It’s your choice as to which of these teachings you’re going to accept and believe. But that’s the only choice you have for whether you’re aware of it or not you have already chosen one. The good news is, if you have chosen the ego’s teaching and most people have, you can change it. You’re always free to change your mind.

…Honest thoughts, untainted by the dream of worldly things outside yourself, become the holy messengers of God Himself.” …ACIM

In the very next verse, talking about the same honest thoughts, Jesus says: They remind you that you are the co-creator of all things that live. Wow! How many can really accept and believe a statement like that? If you can’t accept this statement about yourself then you can’t accept the idea that you are an extension of God. For to be one you have to be the other also. The Course tells us that “when God created you, He made you part of Him.” If you are part of God then you cannot be other than the co-creator of all things.

You have never lost your creative Power and you’re using it all of the time. Only Love creates and It does so through thought. If you’re thinking from the ego’s thought system you’re thinking negative and fearful thoughts and using your creative Power to miscreate. If you’re thinking from Love’s Thought System then you’re thinking positive and loving thoughts and using your creative Power to create. This makes all the difference between a happy physical experience or an unhappy one.

I’m going to close this post with a verse from the 15th chapter of A Course in Miracles which is appropriate for the season: “The lesson I was born to teach and still would teach to all my brothers is that sacrifice is nowhere and love is everywhere. For communication embraces everything, and in the peace it re-establishes, love comes of itself. Let no despair darken the joy of Christmas, for the time of Christ is meaningless apart from joy. Let us join in celebrating peace by demanding no sacrifice of anyone, for so will you offer me the love I offer you. What can be more joyous than to perceive we are deprived of nothing? Such is the message of the time of Christ, which I give you that you may give it and return it to the Father, Who gave it to me. For in the time of Christ, communication is restored, and He joins us in the celebration of His Son’s creation.”


Thank you for visiting this site. I am truly grateful for your visit.

“The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself but shining in the Heaven within…” …ACIM