Easter 1916 W.B Yeats

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  • Created by: Natasha
  • Created on: 15-05-13 11:12

First Stanza

First Stanza:

"Polite meaningless words"- portrayed as ordinary people (normality), treats them as aquantances, casual detatched tone 

Links with 'The FIsherman' where he describes him to be 'wise and simple'. Yeats admires his simple life as he represents old Ireland whereas Yeats does not admire the simple people in Easter 1916. 

"Where motley is worn" - foolish, comapres them to a jesture, simple people who believed they could do great things

"All changed, changed utterly" - repeptition and use of adverb emphasize how much has changed

"Terrible beauty is born" - oxymoron to show new birth of Ireland, refrain is repeated 

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Second Stanza

2nd Stanza 

"Ignorant good-will"- describes Constance Markievicz, oxymoron shows a mixed view on her, believes she had good intentions but they are misplaced, arguing and fighting destroyed her sweetness 

"our winged horse" - pegasus, image of the greek horse, very positive (triumph not as rebels)

"He might have won fame in the end" - Patrick Pearce- could have been renowned/famous for his writing/teaching (Arts), Yeats appreciation for the arts

"A drunken vainglorious lout"- extremely negative tone, towards him, Maud Gonne's husband.

"Transformed utterly"-  emphasises the extent of the change 

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Third Stanza

3rd Stanza

"Hearts with one purpose alone" - portraying their ideas to be driven and fixed. 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. 

"living stream"; "birds"; "cloud to tumbling cloud" - images of nature, movement

"Stone's in the midst of all" - stone is is destructive/thretening, stopping the movement of natur => stubborn/emotionaless. 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. 


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Fourth Stanza

Fourth Stanza 

"Stone of the heart"- repetition of stone, the fight for Ireland has hardened everybody Context- 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. 

"No, no, not night but death; Was it needless death after all?"- Was their death pointless? Did they die in vain?, Yeats shows a morbid attitude towards death. 

"Dream" "Dreamed" - Their dreams link to to sleep=> death

"Are changed, changed utterly; A terrible beauty is born"- refrain is repeated, 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' 

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Verse Form

Mixture of tetrameter and trimeter- constantly changes rhythm to represent the changes occuring in Ireland, represents Yeats mixed/confused mind at the time 

Rhyme scheme ABAB- Regularity suggesting unity of the leaders during the Easter Rising 

The refrain changes to emphasise the extene of the changes and is repeated at the end. 

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Wider Issues/Themes/Context

Easter 1916 was published in 1921

- Easter rising- Key locations seized by irish republicans across Dublin, Seven days of fighting

- Ireland defeated in Irish War of Independence (1919-1921)

- 1921- Partition of Ire land; North still under British rule while the South is independent

- 1922-1923- Irish Civil War 

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