Easter 1916

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  • Easter 1916
    • Form
      • A palinode - a public poem - an apology - retract from view shown in September 1913.
      • Onomatopoeic allusion -- "horse plashes" --
      • Oxymoron -- "heart" and "stone" as well as the refrain "a terrible beauty is born"
    • Context
      • After the surrender, the Volunteers were hissed at and denounced as "murderers" and "starvers of the people"
      • Critic Colman O'Hare -- Yeats shows reluctance to portray Maud Gonne, except by an obligatory comment about her husband.
      • Maud disliked the poem and wrote a letter to Yeats- she disagrees that a sacrifice will turn a heart to stone and that he presented everyone in the poem with a fixed mind.
      • 1921- Partition of Ire land; North still under British rule while the South is independent- 1922-1923- Irish Civil War
    • Quotes
      • they are only ‘vivid’ when the politics is fantastised about – the moment the struggle becomes a physical reality, the ‘vivid’ faces (in later poems) become haggard
        • only through fantasy did they become truly ‘alive’.
      • “A terrible beauty is born,”(16) = people of Ireland  working towards  Irish independence.  The birth of these united people is ‘terrible’ because the fight for independence will inevitably cause bloodshed and death. It is also beautiful because the people are finally uniting and standing up for their beloved country.
        • repetition = indicate that Yeats does not believe that 'beauty' will come from the fight -- trying to convince himself...
      • “stone” represents lifeless object that stays the same/ no emotion.  Key Romantic theme of mutability -- idea that clouds change minute by minute is included.  The state of constancy. All that has happened cannot be changed.  The stone will forever be a stone, as will the deaths of those who died.
        • Use of nature to represent inevitable change
      • sleep is a metaphor for death and these men die in result of their failure to change among the changing events around them.
    • Links
      • Links with 'The FIsherman' where he describes him to be 'wise and simple' -- "Polite meaningless words"
      • Links with 'The Irish Airman Forsees his Death', "I know that I shall meet my fate"- inevitabe death, ironic that Yeats praises the Airman but doesnt praise the leaders of Easter rising. -- "Hearts with one purpose alone"
      • Links with 'The Second Coming' "stony sleep"- people have become stone hearted, stone is in the middle of all the chaos and violence (War) going on. -- "Stone's in the midst of all"
      • Links to Leda and the Swan as it discusses a 'terrible beauty being boring' in the form of Helen of Troy. Links with 'The Second Coming' the idea of something being created/born that will causes destruction-> 'gyres' -- REFRAIN


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