William Butler Yeats Dublin born poet William Butler Yeats Is easily considered one of the greatest known poets of the twentieth century. He has been awarded the Nobel Prize for his uninhibited traditional reflections in his works within a world growing full of modern pieces, and his influences border around mythology, politics, spiritualism, and philosophy. These influences are what have pointed Yeats in the direction he has taken to writing, and it has had a significant impact on his poetic style (Archibald xii).
He utilizes allusive imagery, symbolism, and spiritual themes to create the timeless works that he has become known for. In his works “The Lake Isle of Milliners” and “The Second Coming” allusive Imagery Is used to call to mind a particular thought. “The Wild Swans at Cole” and “The Circus Animals’ Desertion” possess examples of how Yeats uses symbolism to offer the inclination of other evidences. Yeats also used spiritual themes in works such as “Sailing to Byzantium” as well as “Lead and the Swan” which explored areas deeper within such as the supernatural and the soul.
These poems are simply a few of the many William Butler Yeats has written and they alone reveal the Intricacy and crudeness of his talent of which will live on for years ND years to come. Yeats words were chosen and put together in such a way so that, along with holding a particular and more concrete meaning, they suggest other more abstract thoughts and meanings that may appear more significant and have a resonating effect. This technique of allusion imagery was used in “The Lake Isle of Miniseries” through means of nature which the speaker seems to equate with peace throughout the poem.
The most Intriguing thing about all of the descriptions of nature and the Like Is that at the end of the poem it is revealed that the speaker is not in a natural setting at all, but ether an urban one. Essentially, all of the nature the speaker describes is simply a reverie. If he lived in the countryside, perhaps, the speaker would yearn for the metropolis? Regardless, Yeats creates a rather enticing display of the country. The title Itself sets up rather well for a poem Involving an abundance of imagery.
Yeats use of the Isle over Island Immediately makes readers Imagine a place that Is wistful, faraway, and pleasing. In line 3, out of everything that the speaker can speak about, he picks beans. So it becomes rather evident that the speaker sees nature as something important. Later on, bees are brought up and it appears that the speaker wants to raise his own vegetables and yield his own honey as a way of living off of the land. In line 4, by saying “the bee-loud glade” the speaker reveals that he wants to be surrounded by the sounds and noises of nature (Yeats 24).
More soothing sounds are described In line 6, and this Is where the serene sounds of crickets are written about which is something that definitely isn’t in the city very often if at all. Line 8 gives another image of nature, that of the wings of birds in the sky, as well as another indication of what the area might sound like. The readers now have a good idea what the speaker’s scenic haven sounds like. Line 10 expresses that the speaker isn’t merely envisioning what the place will look like, but what it will sound like as well. Biblical manner.
It visualizes the birth of the next dispensation and contains the collapse of the age (Archibald 195). Within lines 1-2 Yeats incorporates medieval features into the poem by means of writing of the falcon. Fallowing was a medieval activity, and those who were wealthy enough often would build aviaries which is where birds were kept until they were used for hunting. Falcons and hawks were the most common birds used because they are obviously great hunters. In being so, the activity of fallowing can be a violent one, but not frenzied or hysterical violence that would more be characterized by a war.
It was a noble activity in which the bird of choice was strictly controlled by its master. But, in the poem, that is obviously not the case. The reference to fallowing is read to bring to mind the virtues of the Middle Ages, which would be order, tradition, religious faith, a unified government, and civilized warfare, or as civilized as a war could be (Archibald 114). In line 19 of this poem, the word “stony’ is written and can have multiple meanings, and one may refer to the Middle Ages. When one calls to mind a medieval structure like a castle or cathedral, a big, foreboding, stone building is likely imagined after all.
In the poem however, “stony’ suggests something that survives and persists and lasts a long while. A person could also be called “stone-like”, though, when they are more incapable of emotion of reaction. Yeats uses the image of a child’s “sleep” as well as a metaphor for the approximately 2,000 years between the First and Second Coming. The Middle Ages only lasted from about the fifth to the fifteenth centuries, thus it was the longest period of the last “twenty centuries,” so Yeats may have been using it as a illustration of the period overall (Yeats 200).
Now, the biblical features of “The Second Coming” should be rather obvious. It is a reference to the reappearance of Christ as is prophesied in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. The lines 4-6 hold two more references to the Bible, the first of which being the single word “anarchy’ which suggests the reign of Satan on Earth before Christ returns (Yeats 200). More precisely, though, it also indicates The Great Flood. What is most fascinating is that the poem covers the entire length of the Bible in these few lines, all the way from Genesis, which is where the flood occurs, to Revelation.
The image Yeats creates is much more violent and explicit than the Bible though through words of “blood-dimmed tide” and “drowned. (Yeats 200)” It is almost like the flood being viewed or experienced by those who weren’t able to make it onto the ark. Yet another perceptible thing about these lines is what the word “loosed” rings about, and it can be applied to a force such like the flood, but it also has the ability to be applied as a more annalistic force, and in this way it leads up to the use of releasing the “rough beast” later on (Harrison 362).
The stating of “a darkening flood” in “The Wild Swans at Cole” can also be seen as a different form of “blood- dimmed tide” from this poem, and in turn being a sort of signal of the apocalypse (Ross 75). The description of the sphinx in lines 13-14 can bring to mind several Biblical ideas. Firstly, the sphinx resides in Egypt which is, secondly, where Jews were led captive until they were freed by Moses in the Book of Exodus. Thirdly, the story of Chrism’s temptation in the desert by Satan can be called to mind, which then leads to believe that the desert could, in a certain sense, be the Satin’s home.
Lastly, the sphinx itself is a mixture of two very dissimilar animals-?that would be man and lion 19, the words “nightmare,” “stony sleep,” and “rocking cradle” are all part of this prolonged metaphor that links the “twenty centuries” between Christ and the Second Coming as only a single night of a baby’s slumber (Archibald 1 15). Sleep as a adaptor could indicate either tranquility or unconsciousness, but it could be both, which would characterize the “twenty centuries” between the First and Second Comings as likely being very near.
Now, in line 22, this reference is rather simple to think of. Since Christ was born in Bethlehem, that city is recognized as an entrance of sorts of light forces in the world. Therefore, in Chrism’s case, it is positive. In the case of the “rough beast,” it is definitely not so positive or light. Yeats use of symbols is generally something of the physical sort that is both itself ND a suggestion of other, more likely transcendental, qualities. A perfect example of how he uses symbolism is in “The Wild Swans at Cole” in which he combines swans, twilight, and stillness to represent beauty. The Circus Animals’ Desertion” which uses repetition and Irish legend as a source of symbolism is a good instance as well. In “The Wild Swans at Cole,” it isn’t much of a surprise when swans do indeed make an appearance in the poem. They are a symbol of beauty, vitality, as well as longevity. The swans do not seem to age the same way the speaker does, and they aren’t aware of pain and fatigue like the speaker is. The swans amaze the speaker very much, but they remind him of the troubles of growing older and the unavailability of death as well.
In lines 5-6 the speaker states that there are fifty-nine swans in the water, so that can only lead to believe that the speaker is studying the swans very closely, or he is Just very familiar with them that he is aware how many there are in the first place (Yeats 143). It wouldn’t be much a surprise in either case since the speaker comes to see them for nineteen autumns. The swans are called “brilliant” in line 13, and this would suggest that they are bright or glistening, making t seem to the speaker that they radiate with youth and vigor (Yeats 143).
The speaker mentions the “bell-beat” of the swans’ wings in lines 17-18 which would make it seem that the swans’ energy and activity creates an acute consciousness of time in the speaker. When the swans are wandering upon the water in lines 25-26, they are described as “mysterious” and “beautiful. (Yeats 143)” It seems as if they have briefly lost the abundance of energy that the speaker admires so much in the previous lines, and it makes one wonder if this is an effect the speaker has on them.
In the 27-30 nines the speaker ponders where the swans will settle again and where they might build new homes and “delight” others with their beautiful youth and energetic spirit. Yeats use of twilight as a symbol in “The Wild Swans at Cole” also has an important part in the poem. The speaker mentions twilight in multiple ways, the main one being that the speaker is aging and therefore approaching the twilight of his time. When one thinks of twilight, they normally think of how it suggests the end of the day, and in the same way in the poem it entails that the speaker is approaching the end of his life on earth.
In the third line the speaker describes an October twilight, and that should immediately signify that the sun’s light is beginning to fade which means the day is coming to a close. The speaker remembers hearing the wings of the swans at twilight. At this point in the poem twilight has been mentioned twice as a time of waning in his life. In line 22 the swans are appreciated by the speaker for their young hearts that have not “grown old. Yeats 143)” From this, it can then be assumed that the speaker’s own heart has grown old, however, coming to the conclusion that he is in his own life’s twilight. In “The Wild Swans of Cole” the speaker seems to be intrigued by the dynamic vitality of the swans. He himself presents a distinct contrast between their apparent endless energy, and his own lack of it. Stillness is then used as the best way to present the idea of the speaker’s own aging, exhaustion, and waning of life. In the third and fourth lines, the speaker states, “The water/Mirrors a still sky. Yeats 143)” This points to both being still and making it seem like there Just is not very much happening pertaining to the setting. The word “still” is used in lines 19 and 24 to mean “continue. The repetition of this word is meant to emphasize the energy that the speaker himself is missing. The most interesting use of stillness in the poem is in line 25 where the speaker has finished admiring the swans for their energy. They have been moving about bursting full with vigor, and now they are suddenly back upon the still water Just drifting about.
This makes it seem as if the swans are not actually there, not real. The swans actually seem to act and move in a manner that suits the mood of the speaker, that is, dynamic when he is admiring them, and still and calm when he observes how they will finally leave. It is evident that Yeats is rather good at repeating words, phrases, structures, and the like. In “The Circus Animals’ Desertion,” he presents how repetition can be used to help remember, much like bards who would travel around and sing with rhymes and repetition.
The first two lines of this poem begins with “l sought,” in section l, lines 1-2 (Yeats 373). Anaphora is the technical term for this kind of repetition, it helps support the idea that the speaker is searching for something and is having difficulty finding it. Anaphora makes an appearance again in section II, line 4 when the speaker repeats he word “vain” three different times in one single line. This clarifies that the speaker’s imagining has been in vain. Section Ill, line 5 holds quite a bit of anaphora.
The word “old” comes before nearly every noun in the line which tells the reader that it is time to bring about new things. This poem seems to have it all; the poet himself seems so overcome by his own work of Irish legend that he refers to the magical and mythical creatures and beasts as circus animals. In lines 6-7 of section I Yeats uses metaphors for the circus animals to describe his creations (“The Circus Animals’ Desertion”). Yeats mentions a agene in section II, lines 2-3 of Eosin and he makes him out to be a being of power and splendor (Archibald 94).
In section II, lines 17-18 the mythological beings of Chilean and his company symbolize the relationship that Yeats has with his home, Ireland, and Irish nationalism (Archibald 213). Yeats became involved with the Celtic Revival which then influenced him to draw from sources of mythology and folklore. He became deeply involved in interests pertaining to that of spiritualism and the occult soon after being introduced to it (Archibald 169). “Sailing to Byzantium” taps into the spiritual themes of spirituality and the soul.
The themes of the supernatural and fate and free will are what Yeats Yeats finds a spectacular way of fusing art and the human together in “Sailing to Byzantium. ” This is one of two poems that hold the most concentrated exploration of the relationships between this world and the supernatural-?or transcendental-? world (Archibald 195). He attempts to find a way in order to migrate out of the problems of simply the human body. This poem connects spirituality intensely to the body; there is a near constant effort to discover where exactly the heart is meant to have its place.
Does it belong as part of the physical body? Does it perish with the physical body? Or, perhaps, does it possess a way of life all of its own? And if this is the case, how can the soul then define itself? Through interaction? Possibly through art? There is obviously quite a few questions that Yeats has, and they don’t all necessarily get resolved within the brief poem. However, illustrations show the multiple ways that the poem expands, completes, and sometimes challenges the uses of the occult (Archibald 195).
According to Greek mythology, if a god or goddess wanted to curse, harm, or kill someone then they did and there was nothing anybody could do about it. In myth lore, as well, if a god or goddess happened to fall in love with someone they would have them, since they did not care about coming down to earth and concealing themselves as an animal to take what they want by force if necessary. Zeus behavior and indifference at the conclusion of the poem shows him to be a sort of representation of the neutrality of nature itself (Seymour 23).
On the topic of fate and free will, it is possible when discussing the Greek gods for one to be sure that the subject has a tendency to skulk somewhere behind the scenes. In “Lead and the Swan,” however, it has a spot in the center. The rape of Lead literally changes the world’s fate by producing Castor and Pollex, Clytemnestra and Helen, and leading it to a disastrous war-?the Trojan War (Archibald 195). It wasn’t all too bad, though, because apparently the war led to the rise of civilization in Europe.
But Lead didn’t have much of a choice in where or not she would be a historical figure, she was too petrified and muddled about what was going on to actually stop being raped. To make things more complicated, Yeats offers the suggestion that Lead may have possessed unsure feelings about the rape while it was occurring. So it sakes one wonder: did she know how things would end? And, what’s more, did she accept this information (Archibald 196)? What is known, though, is that the speaker has to belong to someone of the modern period because he questions and wonders about Lead’s inner thoughts and motivation (Archibald 195).
If the speaker did happen to be Greek, then that sort of opinion would have been beside the point. William Butler Yeats, whose influences border around mythology, politics, spiritualism, and philosophy, is certainly one of the greatest twentieth century poets. His uninhibited traditional reflections in his works within a world growing full of odder pieces earned him a Noble Prize, and it is these influences and ideas that are what have helped Yeats go the way he has taken to writing.