In the poem "Sailing to Byzantium," Yeats describes the natural world as "no country for old men." It is a fertile place, full of birds and crowded with salmon and mackerel, but also a land where living creatures are born, grow old, and die. The narrator, who rebels against death, dreams of sailing to Byzantium, the world of the arts, where beautiful objects, because they are made rather than born, never age and die.
The narrator says that because an aged man is a "paltry" (insignificant) thing, he has decided to sail for Byzantium. He cries out to the gods of that "holy" city to turn him into an art object that will last for eternity. He dreams of being a mechanical bird made of gold and ivory that will sit on a golden branch and sing forever, never dying, out of time (eternal), and able to sing
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
Like Keats in "Ode on a Grecian Urn," the narrator, knowing he will die, longs fervently to be an art object that will never change, grow old, or perish.