Paudeen was a not so kind word for a shopkeeper, someone below Yeats’ station in life.
A class system in Yeats’ time sharply divided people of the British Empire, with the high too often and too quickly exasperated with the low. That system lingers on today but in an implicit rather than an explicit way.
Yeats (internal link) in Paudeen reasons to understand why people like the poorly educated shopkeeper exist in God’s Universe. The arrogance to even think about why certain people merit life is outrageous. It reminds me of the cartoonish Judge Smails in the movie Caddyshack.
Smails was a caricature of a White Anglo Saxon Protestant or WASP. Upon hearing that his young golf caddy failed to get into college, the good Judge remarked, “Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too.”
Yet, from Yeats condescension a nice poem results.
Yeats wrote a book 0f autobiographical reminisces called “The Stirring of the Bones. ” In it, John Fredrick Nims says that Yeats describes a dream from which he woke to hear a voice saying, “The love of God is infinite for every human soul because every human soul is unique, no other can satisfy the same need in God.”
I wish I could wake up with a quote like that.
by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
Indignant at the fumbling wits, the obscure spite
Of our old paudeen in his shop, I stumbled blind
Among the stones and thorn-trees, under morning light;
Until a curlew cried and in the luminous wind
A curlew answered; and suddenly thereupon I thought
That on the lonely height where all are in God’s eye,
There cannot be, confusion of our sound forgot,
A single soul that lacks a sweet crystalline cry.