'The Stolen Child' W.B. Yeats

A powerpoint on W.B. Yeats and his poem 'The Stolen Child'.

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Slide 2

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Context
· This poem was written in 1886, during the `Golden Age' where
Ireland was associated with good literature.
· In 1879 there was a threat of a famine and evictions in Ireland.
This was the first time in Ireland that landlords had been
challenged. In 1879, out of the 2,000,000 Irish population, 800
families owned about 50% of land. Everyone else had to go
through landlords and had little rights. In 1979, problems
started arising in potatoes, this was a big part or rural life for
many Irish people.
· In 1880, Charles Parnell was elected leader of the Irish Party.
Parnell was an important figure because he was against Irish
Land Laws and believed they should be reformed.
· Yeats was interested in myths. There were some folklore that
were told to children about `Changelings'. These `Changelings'
are the children of trolls, fairies or elves that have secretly
been left in the place of a human child.

Slide 3

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Language
· There is a lot of natural imagery in this poem: "Sleuth Wood in the
lake" "There lies a leafy Island" "drowsy water-rats". This creates a
very natural and calm atmosphere.
· "Where the wandering water gushes". The alliteration of the `W' ;
this is a very calming sound. In this poem, it sounds like Yeats is
escaping to nature-its almost as if he is escaping what was
happening in Ireland at the time ­ e.g. Home Rule.
· When it is the fairies point of view, the description changes. The
type of words used are: "Wild" and "Weeping". This is a change of
the calm tone- this description is quite manipulative. This change in
description could refer to the Changeling folklore of Ireland and
Western Europe.
· "Come away, O human child!" This sounds a bit religious. Yeats
was a protestant. This could also represent the Irish people
because the majority were either Protestant or Catholic when this
poem was written.

Slide 4

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Structure
· At the beginning the rhyme scheme is regular, but in to
the second stanza, it changes. This could represent the
change from a calm and peaceful tone to a manipulative
one.
· Also the first and second stanza should be together- this
could represent the fairies taking the child away.

Slide 5

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Tones/Themes
· Nature
· Ireland (Famine/evictions/home rule)
· Mythology
· Manipulation
· Calm
· Peace
· Disruption

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