Thursday, May 7, 2015

Good Hair, Good Poetry, Good Title

Thriller guy is about to head out on some adventure. I saw him dusting off his desert boots and muttering something about ISIS, which might give a clue to where he’s heading. Really, he’s getting too old for this sort of thing. I blame the government for giving him weapons.

Continuing our last entry about finding a good title for your novel, and the difficulties therein, I’d like to point out how much I’ve always admired W. B. Yeats’s hair and…

Thriller Guy. What the hell? I leave you alone with the blog for one day and you’re going on about some poet’s hair?

A.A. Oh, TG, I thought you’d left already.

T.G. My flight leaves in two hours. Hair? You’re supposed to be talking about titles. What the hell is this blog coming to? For God’s sake, stick to the plan. Do I have to hire someone to come in and keep an eye on you every time I go out of town?

A.A. No. Sorry.

T.G. Jesus. And don’t forget to feed the cat.

A.A. Ahem. So I was reading an interesting article by Nick Tabor in the Paris Review the other day about Yeats’s poem, The Second Coming, and how it been the source of (possibly) more book titles than any other poem. This linked up nicely with my last entry about how when I need a title I pull down my many volumes of world poetry and start looking for something that resonates. Let me give you Yeats’s poem and you’ll see what I mean.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Pretty amazing, huh? You can’t read more than a line or two before stumbling over a famous book title. Slouching Toward Bethlehem; The Widening Gyre; Things Fall Apart; The Center Cannot Hold; A Blood-Dimmed Tide The Second Coming; Spiritus Mundi; What Rough Beast are just a few of the many variations of titles that have been mined from this one poem. So if you’re having trouble coming up with a title, just…

(Sound of door closing)

A.A. (Shouting) “So long, TG, see you in a couple of weeks! Have a good trip!”

(Silence) OK, let’s get back to W. B. Yeats’s hair. Really, has any author ever had such a good-looking head of hair? If you have any personal author favorites, haircutwise, send them along in the comments. But try to get them here in the next couple of weeks, before TG gets back from his trip. Here are some other pictures of Yeats and his fabulous hair.

Hold the presses! Here's Rupert Brooke, another poet with fabulous hair.

Man, I hope TG doesn't see this post when he gets back.


  1. Ruport Brooke looks related to the actor, Hugh Grant (which, of course, ALSO has nothing to do with titles but I digress)

  2. Yeats is my favorite poet--nice to see him get a mention!

    Brian January