Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul.
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
for a solution to the pain of unrequited passion. In this poems original ending,
Yeats conjures the nostalgia of the spring of youth and reciprocated sexuality.
Yeats looks towards nature for inspiration, admiring the grand chestnut tree, giving forth blossoms even after old age with a continual spring of vital energy:
acknowledges that mankind in old age is not looked upon with such veneration as
is the old, stately tree.
In asking his final question as to the use of a long life, he looks to the dancer a dancer who creates his or her own choreography to the constraints of the pace of musical accompaniment.
To Yeats, life is a series of fluid and self-invented
steps, not governed by time but rather invented against time.