The Ineffable Name

“Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words;”

or, “not to be uttered.”


That is the definition of “Ineffable” according to Webster’s Dictionary.


It’s also the word Yeats uses in his poem To Some I have Talked with by the Fire


It is dark but beautiful. Here is the bulk of the poem:


…My heart would brim with dreams about the times

When we bent down above the fading coals

And talked of the dark folk who live in souls

Of passionate men, like bats in the dead trees;

And of the wayward twilight companies

Who sigh with mingled sorrow and content,

Because their blossoming dreams have never bent

Under the fruit of evil and of good:

And of the embattled flaming multitude

Who rise, wing above wing, flame above flame,

And, like a storm, cry the Ineffable Name


The imagery of souls as being like “bats in dead trees” is so interesting.  The souls are very much alive and are hanging on to something very much close to being dead.  So many of us, all of us at one point or another, feel like dead trees…barely hanging on to survive. 

There is so much to consider in this work – such as the “companies who sigh” because their dreams have never “bent under the fruit of evil and of good.” This seems to reflect upon the person who has dreams, but never dared to fulfill them…never dared to live them…

And then we come to the Ineffable Name.  What is he referring to here?  Most critics suggest that he is probably referring to Irish Republicanism, and how the phrase ‘Republic of Eire’ was not allowed to be uttered in Ireland at that time. And the ‘Embattled flaming Multitude’ referrs to those fighting for the Irish Republicans fighting against England for liberty.

And that is probably what he is referring to here.

But there is another allusion that can be drawn from that line.

We are all an embattled flaming multitude, aren’t we?  We all fight against the darkness that tries to prevail itself upon us, don’t we? We all get broken by the world and the evil therein, and find ourselves in “wayward companies.” However…there is hope. There is an Ineffable Name that we can cry.  There is the name of one who gives us the strength and courage to “rise, wing above wing.” There is One that is truly too great to be expressed in words.  And this One longs to bring hope and joy…and liberty… to the souls of passionate men, and wayward companies, and the embattled flaming multitude.  

Like the Irish Republicans, we have our own fight for liberty don’t we?  Thanks to the Ineffable Name, we can rise and, like the storm, cry out…