This is one of those wonder-lines which resonate without your necessarily quite understanding them. David Esterly, whose attunement to beauty was nano-fine, probably did.
I enjoy the resonance despite the incomprehension and was reassured to find that even someone as erudite as Clive James doesn’t seem quite sure what that ‘storm-tossed banner’ means. Still knocked him sideways. His short response to the poem ‘Sailing to Byzantium’, from which the line comes has unfortunately vanished from The Spectator’s website, or I’d share it.
Let me know how you understand it, if you do.
‘But beauty, says Yeats, is a storm-tossed banner.’
And enjoy our quote-rich celebration of David Esterly’s magnificent book, The Lost Carving.
Source: David Esterly, The Lost Carving: A Journey to the heart of making (New York: Penguin, 2013), p. 146
Photo credit: Thomas Ulrich / LoboStudioHamburg at pixabay