Yeats poems analysis, AS

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Yeats Revision
Nationalism/Irish concerns Mythology
Nature/Idylls The past / Nostalgia
Life and Death Youth and Age
Love Disintegration / Loss / Sudden Change / Chaos
Body and Soul Art
The Stolen Child
A metaphor for the return to innocence, which is characterised by childhood
Yeats desired to write poetry of `longing and complaint' ­ not story of being taken from the
`real' world but escape to faeryland
The dichotomy (contrast) of a `fantasy' world and the world of reality
o Represents dissatisfaction with the real world
o Nationalism/Irish concerns ­ link to `The Fisherman'/'September 1913' ­ dissatisfaction
with contemporary Ireland and the values of the people in comparison to the ideals and
values of the Romantic nationalists and the nationalist heroes
o `wandering water gushes' ­ images of freedom of the faeryland/Ireland?
o `scarce', star', `seek', `slumbering' ­ sibilance conveys dreamlike/ethereal quality
o `the world's more full of weeping than you can understand', `To and fro we leap /
And chase the frothy bubbles, While the world is full of troubles / And is anxious in
its sleep' ­ contrast between the real world and the faeryland
o The change in the final refrain makes it almost accusatory, 2nd person used to emphasise
innocence/obliviousness of the child. `a world more full of weeping than he can
The comparison of natural/romantic Ireland and the faeryland
o Not quite sure which he is talking about at points
o `Where dips the rocky highland / Of Sleuth Wood in the lake', `leafy island' ­ Sligo,
west Ireland. Grounds the poem in this traditional culture and enchanting physical beauty.
Comparison with the magical images ­ `where the wave of moonlight glosses / the dim
grey sands with light'.
o `foot it all the night', `olden dances' ­ magic/incantations or the cultural traditions (incl.
dancing) of Ireland?
o `wandering water gushes' ­ alliteration contributes to a dreamlike, flowing effect but
this is in `the hills above glen-car'. Suggests that such magic is found in the
traditional/natural Ireland
Yeats' exploration of myth/folklore
o `Faery' ­ self-consciously medieval/archaic
o `O' ­ deliberate archaism
o Alliteration `wandering water gushes' creates a flowing, dreamlike effect of the
fantasy world
o Used to convey the theme of nationalism?
o Feeds into many cultures' fear of loss of children; also the story of changeling children
Nationalism/Irish concerns
o `from ferns that drop their tears' ­ the personification of the crying fern suggests the
beauty of the natural/magical world of Ireland is corrupted by the sadness and `unquiet
dreams' of reality; contrast between peace and innocence and the bitter dissatisfied
world. Suggests the romantic ideals of nationalism are corrupted by the harsh realities?

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The final stanza describes the child `solemn-eyed'. `He'll hear no more the lowing / Of
the calves on the warm hillside / Or the kettle on the hob / Sing peace into his
breast' ­ removal from comfort. Potentially moving from the romantic notions of Ireland
to the enchanting world of Irish nationalism, appears to share such notions but also an
indication of the dangers of it. Emphasised by the reference to `no more...…read more

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Wolfe Tone ­ founded the united Irishmen. Left Ireland, went to france from the US and
led a French force to Ireland. Captured and sentenced to death but commit suicide in
prison ­ cheated the hangman/English. Considered a romantic death ­ martyrdom
The Cold Heaven
Ambiguous poem- suggests enlightenment and revelation in life and punishment after death,
shows an element of disillusionment
o It ends with a rhetorical question, similar to Leda and the Swan, Among Schoolchildren,
and The Second Coming.…read more

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The ghost begins to quicken ­ comes alive, after death. Questions what happens ­ use
of rhetorical question to end the poem. Uncertainty of the afterlife
o Published in 1914 at the start of WWI ­ the destruction and punishment he depicts could
be related to this?
The Wild Swans at Coole
Regular form. 5 X 6 line stanzas, roughly iambic meter, pattern of stressed syllables is 434353.
ABCBBDD rhyme scheme
Original structure was stanzas 1, 2, then 5, then 3, 4.…read more

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Loss / disintegration / destruction
o Among what rushes will they build, / By what lake's edge or pool / Delight men's
eyes when I awake some day / To find they have flown away? - Use of a rhetorical
question relating to the loss of the swans indicates a profound sense of longing and
loneliness of Yeats. Potentially linked to the unrequited love of Maud Gonne. He
questions what he will do when he no longer has this constant beauty in his life.…read more

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The only caesura is on line before the ending two words `this death' ­ emphasising the
death and the balance to the rest of the poem ­ his life. Alternatively it could be him
faltering; losing the certainty he had throughout the poem that death was the only
o the years to come seemed waste of breathe, / A waste of breathe the years behind /
In balance with this life, this death. ­ chiastic arrangement. Past/future contrast.…read more

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Contrast between the wise and simple and freckled fisherman and the description of
the reality of the Irish people that Yeats observes ­ insolent/knave/drunken.
Demonstrates the disparity between the romantic ideal (of the past ­ nostalgia ­ link to
September 1913) and the reality.
Broken Dreams
The varying length of the stanzas give it an unplanned feeling ­ stream of consciousness/
memories surfacing
The enjambment used throughout the poem fortifies this idea, creating a fast-paced recollection
of memories.…read more

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Spun around like a top- infantilises the moon, indicative of youth
o Two close kindred meet/taken a new phase/pass from change to change - Emblems
of self and anti self, or of body and soul as reciprocal and coordinated as the cat and the
moon.…read more

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Being certain that they and I / But lived where motley is worn- add to the fact that each
citizen, like Yeats, is well aware that they share a common identity, but the use of `motley'
(the chequered outfit worn by jesters) suggests that the idyll they all dream of is foolish.
o A terrible beauty is born- describes the people of Ireland as they come together and work
towards the goal of Irish independence from England.…read more

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­ the end of this cycle that began with the birth of
Christ, what comes now?
o Drowned/blood-dimmed/desert birds- images of death, impending horror and death.
o Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world ­
disintegration of society, potential link to the destruction he saw as part of the nationalist
movement or the factions within the movement.
o The falcon cannot hear the falconer ­ the people have lost their guide.…read more


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