If one sets up eternity and time as mutually exclusive realms and idealizes one over the other, that they are, in fact, mutually interdependent is a paradox.  Of course if you do not define them as in opposition, it may not be.  In the passage from Yeats it seems to be since so many have read that last passage as a preference for an eternity that, as Carrol noted, is associated with loss and death as much as perfection--and regularly is in Yeats.  The point I made about "The Circus Animals Desertion" is the same as yours: Yeats points out that there is no source of images for eternity except in time.
Nancy

>>> Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> 04/14/10 4:55 PM >>>
Nancy Gish wrote:
> Plotinus said that eternity is in love with the productions of time.
> This is the conundrum in both Keats and Yeats because, as Carrol
> notes, the lovers will never grow old only because they will never
> live. From "The Stolen Child" through the last poems Yeats sets up
> a similar dialectic and irony. Because the price of being a golden
> bird is that there is only the love of real birds of which to
> sing--"birds in the trees/ Those dying generations at their song."
> Byzantium is chosen not only because it is eternal but because "an
> aged man is but a paltry thing/ A tattered coat upon a stick" (i. e. a
> scarecrow). And what is there to do when the "masterful images"
> desert? "I must lie down where all the ladders start,/ In the foul
> rag-and-bone shop of the heart." Only in body and time is there a
> source for images of eternity--a paradox.
Sorry, but how is that a paradox? Where else do images (of
anything) come from? F H Bradley titled his major work _Appearance and
Reality_. It seems, in relationship, it could almost have been _Image
and Eternity_. Hence, man is made in the image of God, etc.

Ken A