Sailing to Byzantium

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  • Sailing to Byzantium
    • Context
      • A myth from the old testament in which a group of men built a grand tower which was destroyed by God, who also divided up the people.
        • Yeats could be using this to reference the destruction caused during the first world war.
    • Form
      • Ottava Rima
        • Changes from traditional epic poem as speaker is not a traditional hero
      • First two lines link to each other and the third takes a bad turn
    • Meaning
      • Old Age
        • Yeats is feeling bitter about his old age, so he paints a negative self image of himself: "No country for old men" "An aged man is but a paltry thing" "A tattered coat upon a stick"
          • The "no county" line links to how Yeats no longer feels like he belongs in Ireland
          • Yeats want eternal glory. He wants to be enameled in gold.
            • He wants to be part of art. Lines 23-24
          • The Scarecrow line shows us to be nothing but frames when we get old, though our soul and body are separate.
      • Nature
        • Is used to represent young people and is very harmonius in this poem. Yeats represents young people as "In one another's arms, birds in the trees"
          • However, after this line, we are told of "those dying generations," which links to all of the people killed in the war
      • In lines 7-8, Yeats compares how peoples lives are so breif and people are often too busy living to think about the things that might outlast them. The people are the music and the monuments, which last a lot longer, are the things that matter.
      • When the speaker reaches Byzanthium, we realise how beautiful it is
      • The speaker is looking for a spiritual rebirth. He wants his body and soul separate, he wants to be someone completely new


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