The “Crazy Jane” poems by William Butler Yeats are based on a real life character- an old peasant woman who is Lady Gregory’s neighbour. Lady Gregory is a woman of world; she is passionate, candid, sexy but rather harsh in her talk. In this poem, she acts as the mouth-piece for a sane philosophy that both the body and soul are the creations of God and are pure and pious. Sex is a part of life but it should not be used for something wicked. To have an integrated personality, experiencing normal sex life is needed. Even saints and philosophers have harped on the idea of physical love needed to attain divine love. The Bishop regards love as something foul and sinful. Jane retorts him by saying that the seat of love-the private organs-is the place of excrement. Physical love is necessary for a full life.
Jane meets the Bishop on the road and they hold a conversation. The Bishop beseeches her to lead a virtuous life. The Bishop tells Jane that her breasts are flat and old and her views will get stiff on account of old age. He urges her to give up this sinful life which is as dirty as a pig-sty and lead a virtuous and healthy life so that she can secure a safe place in Heaven.
Jane replies the Bishop that good and evil are closely inter-connected to each other; good needs evil as a complement; one is incomplete without the other. She retorts and says that her friends were as sexy as her and they have not been denied any honour or grave after their death. They were experts in bodily vice but were also proud of their pure hearts.
Jane further tells the Bishop that woman should be proud and strong in matters related to love. Love has its dwelling in the place of excrement. Love finds satisfaction in the filthy organs of the body. The virginity of a woman can only be completed by consummation.
The poem, “Crazy Jane Talks With The Bishop” consists of three stanzas each having six lines. The dialogue that takes place between Jane and the Bishop is rapid and sharp. Jane’s philosophy is the same and convincing. The poem is noteworthy for the blending of the sensuous with the noble, the petty with the significant, and the gay with the heroic.