September 1916

September 1913

·         Refrain: “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone / It’s with O’Leary in the grave.”

·         The refrain reminds us of the tragic death of “O’Leary” and without him all is lost, “dead and gone”. He is also mocking him, as he has thrown his life away as if he did not see that it was worth it anymore. The repetition emphasises Yeats’ passion. 

·         “You have dried the marrow from the bone...” The life has been drained out of him and has taken strength away from the People. Metaphor.

·         “All that delirium of the brave...” sarcastic. Diction choice of the word “that” emphasises that Yeats doesn’t understand what went wrong. He is criticising the madness of rash behaviour.

·         Cathleen ni Houlihan is a mythical symbol and emblem of Irish nationalism found in literature and art, sometimes representing Ireland as a personified woman. Also a one-act play written by Yeats in collaboration with Lady Gregory in 1902: “You’d cry ‘Some woman’s yellow hair / Has maddened every mother’s son’...”

·         Yeats uses the word romantic in his poetry for two of his most famous proclamations, one involving his political mentor O’Leary and the other honouring his literacy patron and collaborator Lady Gregory shortly after his estate at Coole Park had been sold to the government in 1927.

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September 1913

September 1913

·         Refrain: “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone / It’s with O’Leary in the grave.”

·         The refrain reminds us of the tragic death of “O’Leary” and without him all is lost, “dead and gone”. He is also mocking him, as he has thrown his life away as if he did not see that it was worth it anymore. The repetition emphasises Yeats’ passion.

·         “You have dried the marrow from the bone...” The life has been drained out of him and has taken strength away from the People. Metaphor.

·         “All that delirium of the brave...” sarcastic. Diction choice of the word “that” emphasises that Yeats doesn’t understand what went wrong. He is criticising the madness of rash behaviour.

·         Cathleen ni Houlihan is a mythical symbol and emblem of Irish nationalism found in literature and art, sometimes representing Ireland as a personified woman. Also a one-act play written by Yeats in collaboration with Lady Gregory in 1902: “You’d cry ‘Some woman’s yellow hair / Has maddened every mother’s son’...”

·         Yeats uses the word romantic in his poetry for two of his most famous proclamations, one involving his political mentor O’Leary and the other honouring his literacy patron and collaborator Lady Gregory shortly after his estate at Coole Park had been sold to the government in 1927.

·         “I was romantic in all” he wrote on the first page of the first draft of his autobiography.

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Easter 1916

Easter 1916

·         Refrain: “A terrible beauty is born.”

·         Repetition (Wordsworth’s note to ‘The Thorn’): “Poetry is passion.”

·         “But lived where motley is worn...” He is mocking their naivety by suggesting they wear the clothes of jesters and that they are foolish for ever thinking they could make a difference.

·         Throughout the whole of the poem, Yeats emphasises his segregation from the rest of them: “they and I”.

·         Metaphor for life or for revolution: “He, too, has resigned his part / In the casual comedy.” Yeats is bitter and is treating his life as a joke.

·         “The stone’s in the midst of it all.” The “stone” is a metaphor for the rebels, they are heavy and almost like a weight is pulling them down. The revolution that the rebels are fighting is more like a burden.

·         The “rebels” are trying to reach out for their freedom like “the birds” yet ultimately they only come “tumbling back down again”.

·         Repetition of “minute by minute” illustrates that time is running out and the inevitable is going to happen.

·         “We know their dream; enough / To know that they dreamed and are dead.”

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The Stolen Child

The Stolen Child

·         Refrain: “With a faery, hand in hand, / For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

·         The poem was written in 1886 and is based on the legend of faeries taking children away and replacing them.

·         The plot of the poem is a metaphor for the return to innocence, which is characterised by childhood.

·         Nature is used as a representation of freedom and escape: “flapping herons.” There is urgency yet cunningness to this escapism illustrated through the refrain: “Come away, O human child!”

·         They are chasing a dream that may not exist: “chase the frothy bubbles.” Children always chase the bubbles.

·         Use of onomatopoeia to represent movement and freedom: “Where the wandering water gushes.”

·         Growing up and the loss of innocence is inevitable: “for he comes.” It also involves some sort of seduction as growing up is always deceptive and things aren’t always as they seem: “full of berrys.”

·         The ‘fantasy’ world Yeats creates sharply contrasts with the real world, representing his dissatisfaction with the real world.

·         Alliteration: “while the world is full of troubles.”

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The Wild Swans at Coole

The Wild Swans at Coole

·         Yeats first visited Coole Park in 1897. He was in a miserable love affair with Maude Gonne at the time.

·         Iambic tetrameter (lines 1 and 3), iambic trimester (lines 2, 4 and 6) and iambic pentameter (line 5).

·         Uses an ABCBDD rhyme scheme. The poem, according to this type of construction, has similar traits to a lyrical song or even a ballad – strong emotion is released in a sort of pitiful confession.

·         The rhyming couplets add a sense of conclusion.

·         Yeats is the wondering swan, the one who does not have a partner: “nine-and-fifty swans.”

·         As in Easter 1916, the stones are a representation of change and growing old; Yeats is weighing himself down: “Upon the brimming water among the stones.” Use of the word “brimming” has an onomatopoeic quality.

·         Time brings with it a confusion of what has past and it is disordered like a gyre: “scatter wheeling.”

·         Admiration for the swans: “brilliant creatures...mysterious, beautiful.”

·         Enjambment represents the flowing of the Swans and their graceful movements. Caesura is representative of Yeats.

·         Ends in a rhetorical question, sense of being unfinished: “To find they have flown away?”

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In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markewiecz

In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markewiecz

·         Eva Gore-Booth was the younger sister of Constance Gore-Booth, who later became Constance Markiewicz. 

·         Eva was a suffragette and fell in love with a woman named Esther Roper. Before this, Yeats had considered proposing to Eva.

·         Constance Markiewicz was an Irish National Revolutionary, and became the first female elected to the British House of Commons. She was the first woman to be sentenced to death but her sentence was changed to imprisonment.

·         Petrachan sonnet except it is stretched.

·         Juxtaposition: “But a raving autumn shears / Blossom from the summer’s wreath.”

·         Use of caesura is representative of the fate that the sisters come to: “conspiring among the ignorant.”

·         “When withered old and skeleton-gaunt, an image of such politics” – reflective of Maude Gonne.

·         Yeats sees himself in the girls as well as the Irish rebels: “The innocent and the beautiful. / Have no enemy but time”.

·         The fire of the youth and the willingness to do good does not last forever shown through the metaphor: “Bid me strike a match and blow.” However it could also suggest that Yeats is stirring the fire to make it grow even more.

·         “Two girls in silk kimonos, both / Beautiful, one a gazelle.” 

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An Irish Airman Foresees his Death

An Irish Airman Foresees his Death

·         Lots of uses of personal pronouns within the poem suggest that Yeats is mourning the personal loss of his friend, not a public one.

·         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 option.

·         Alternate rhyme scheme

·         Chiasmus: “The years to come seemed waste of breath / A waste of breath the years behind.”

·         Masochistic: “a lonely impulse of delight.”

·         He is weighing up the options he has in life, considering what his options are, his fate however is already sealed for him through the alliteration of “meet my fate” and: “I balanced all, brought all to mind”.

·         Life and death are the same thing: “this life, this death.”

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Among School Children

Among School Children

·         Ottava Rima – 8 Stanzas with 8 lines, regular rhythm, regular rhyme scheme of abababcc. A Roman numeral heads each stanza. The form was traditionally used for heroic or epic poetry.

·         The “sixty year old smiling public man” is Yeats himself. It represents him being in the centre of the Irish republic.

·         Comparison to Leda and the Swan: “I dream of a Ledaean body...” This is creepy  as well as vulnerable, comparison to what happens during old age.

·         Like the rebels, Maude Gonne is “yolk and white”. The two images of Maude Gonne belong together but cannot merge just like the dream the rebels have and the reality cannot either.

·         Old age is comforting: “there is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow.”

·         There is an excess of something in death: “but keep a marble or a bronze repose.”

·         Yeats is again, mocking the careless actions of mankind: “O self-born mockers of man’s enterprise.”

·         “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” We’re all part of one greater whole, everyone can dance but not everyone is a dancer but you can’t have one without the other. The ending is ambiguous. 

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The Cold Heaven

The Cold Heaven

·         The poem was inspired by strange sky patterns; it is revelatory.

·         It is romantic in style and prioritises emotion over reason.

·         Does the suffering and heart break in life last after death? Why do we have to grow old and die?

·         Contains a volta which is the shift or point of dramatic change, or a shift in thought.

·         There are frequent uses of oxymorons and opposites: “ice burned”

·         The structure is mixed with an alexandrine (a line of poetic meter comprising 12 syllables) and free verse which reflects order with chaos. Yeats is bringing together his thoughts about the afterlife.

·         Sense of madness: “Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro.”

·         Ends in a rhetorical question: “By the injustice of the skies for punishment?” Can be compared to the Wild Swans at Coole.

·         Nothing is what it seems: “rock-delighting heaven.”

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Sailing to Byzantium

Sailing to Byzantium

·         ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ is the metaphorical search for artistic perfection.

·         Uses the same form as Among School Children except it is half the length, this is representative that perhaps Yeats is not fully satisfied with what he has found or what he believes to be his fate.

·         Use of the scarecrow image again, when someone grows old, they lose their being: “a tattered coat upon a stick”

·         Use of harsh alliteration illustrates Yeats’ frustration and feel of entrapment in who he is: “Whatever is begotten, born and dies.”

·         Yeats longs to be young again, he wants to resume youthful activities that he once did and he compares himself to the young frequently: “that is no country for old men.”

·         In the last stanza there is a sense of an excess of something, there is too much “gold and gold” (illustrated by repetition) further showing that there is no answer as to what happens beyond death.

·         There are different stages in life: “Of what is past, or passing, or to come.” The ending of the poem is ambiguous, it is either looking in hope to the future or giving up in everything that we know.

·         Through his art, Yeats is searching for perfection, he rewrote the poem three times illustrating his desperation to try and find this perfection. He is infuriated with the casualness of the men and the revolution and seeks something more.

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The Fisherman

The Fisherman

·         This is Yeats presentation of the perfect man: a man who is wise and simple, just like a fisherman.

·         The poem uses alternate rhyme (“began”, “man”, “flies”, “eyes”), which reflects the simpleness of the fisherman’s task. It also reflects the peace and escapism that fishing brings.

·         The use of enjambment allows the poem to follow and continue illustrating the escapism and flow of the water below. It also brings a sense of longing for something more than just “this wise and simple man”.

·         Juxtaposition of what we long for and what really happens: ”What I had hoped ‘twould be...and the reality.”

·         Yeats is an observer: “the living men...the dead man...the craven man...”

·         Repetition of “a man” simplifies our meaning of life and what we set out to do. Can be compared to the rebels; what effect can one “man” really have?

·         He is criticising men and looking back on what he has said in the third stanza. 

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Leda and the Swan

Leda and the Swan

·         It is in the form of a Petrachan sonnet (ABBAABA CDECDE).  The poem is twisted love and ambiguous as it is not certain whether the poem is love or ****.

·         It is based on the Greek myth where Zeus ****s Leda in the form of a swan. She consequently gives birth to Helen of Troy and Yeats foreshadows the destruction and death that results from this one moment in time: “The broken wall, the burning roof and tower...”

·         There is no couplet use at the end of the poem which could suggest that there has been no resolution.

·         Half rhymes: “up” and “drop”. Not absolute, something not quite right, disturbs the flow of the poem.

·         The broken line within the poem literally represents them being “caught up” within the moment.

·         The use of alliteration at the end of stanza one represents her innocence and urgency: “he holds her helpless”. The juxtaposition of harsh and soft sounds also contrasts the two characters.

·         Lots of sexual references within the poem lead to the suggestion that the incident is not necessarily ****: “breast upon his breast”.

·         Uncertainty, ends in a rhetorical question: “Did she put on his knowledge with his power / Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?”

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Man and the Echo

Man and the Echo

·         Written in 1938, just before Yeats’ death. There are two speakers, the ‘Man’ and the ‘Echo’ and it is reminiscent of a play.

·         In an early draft of the poem, the speaker was labelled not ‘Man’ but ‘Echo’ showing that there is something autobiographical about the poem.

·         The use of rhyming couplet (“pit”, “lit”, “ill”, “till”) stresses that the lines are grouped together and that his thoughts are weaving into one. Use of enjambment also reflects the man’s thoughts as he contemplates whether or not suicide is the option. Yeats was inspired by Hamlet’s speech by Shakespeare.

·         Reflects Yeats’ personal life: “did words of mine put too great strain on that woman’s reeling brain?” Reflective of Margo Collins who Yeats had an affair with but she committed suicide.

·         The Echo repeats: “lie down and die”. It illustrates that he cannot find the answers that he is so desperately searching for; is death the answer?

·         Repetition: “night after night” reflects how time continues whilst the man is left bewildered.

·         The Man presents death as something welcoming and comforting through the use of the word “dream”. However, the Echo crushes this idea through its repetition, making death seem more sudden and eerie as opposed to peaceful and welcoming.

·         The use of alliteration gives a sense of coming to an end: “and all work done, dismisses all.” In the end, everything will be dismissed and ultimately fall victim “into the night”.

·         The use of the “rabbit” at the end of the poem is a metaphorical representation of life itself and the pain and suffering it brings. Yet it is also ambiguous because with life comes feeling and love. 

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The Second Coming

The Second Coming

·         The context of the poem is important. When Yeats talks about “turning and turning in the widening gyre” he could be referring to the contraction of the English gyre but the beginning of the Irish gyre. The poem was written in 1919 and published in 1920.

·         Yeats uses the metaphor: “the falcon cannot hear the falconer”. This in itself is a terrifying image as it conjures up the idea that the bird of prey has now become the prey itself, showing how backwards things have become.

·         Alliteration: “the darkness drops again.” Harsh sounds show that ‘The Second Coming’ fast approaches.

·         Diction choice of the word “thighs” is sexual and can be compared to ‘Leda and the Swan’.

·         There is no life anymore: “a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun”.

·         Ends in a rhetorical question: “Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

·         The poem is in blank verse which is unusual in English lyric poetry. Rhyme scheme starts AABB but then stops representing things falling apart.

·         There is a mythical feel to the poem reflected through the reference to the sphinx: “a shape with a lion body and the head of a man”.

·         Refers to the coming of Jesus as the “rough beast”. This is reflective of the overlapping of the Christian and anti-Christian eras as people began to form their own ideas about religion.

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Broken Dreams

Broken Dreams

·         Form: 13 / 6 / 7 / 10 / 5 There is no pattern which reflects the “broken” line.

·         The poem is like a stream of consciousness, uncontrolled, like in a dream which is reflected through the varying line and stanza lengths. He is rambling.

·         Yeats isn’t too sure what he wants being middle aged and confused. The poem was published in 1917, just after Yeats’ last proposal to Maude Gonne. He was 52 when the poem was published.

·         Biographer R. F. Foster has observed that Yeats’ last offer of marriage was motivated by a sense of duty than by a genuine desire to marry her.

·         Juxtaposition between life and death: “there is grey in your hair”.

·         There is lots of enjambment used again reflecting the dream-like tone to the poem.

·         Refrain: “vague memories, nothing but memories.” The “memories” are all that Yeats has left now as he no longer expects her to change her mind.

·         Contrast of the young and the old: “A young man when the old men are done talking”. When you grow old, you lose a sense of your individuality and identity.

·         He has looked everywhere for something to make sense: “from dream to dream and rhyme to rhyme”.

·         Desperation: “But in the grave all, all shall be renewed.”

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The Cat and the Moon

The Cat and the Moon

·         The poem was published in 1919 and can be interpreted to be a representation of Yeats’ relationship with Maude Gonne.

·         Yeats is the ‘Cat’ but the ‘Cat’ is based upon “Black Minnaloushe” who was Maude Gonne’s cat.

·         The use of alternate rhyme gives a nursery rhyme feel to the poem.

·         Repetition and use of rhetorical questions illustrates the childish nature of the poem and also indicates a swaying motion: “Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?”

·         The meter of the poem changes in the second stanza, signifying some sort of change.

·         There is a dependency between the Cat and the Moon: “when two close kindred meet”

·         Unsure of what is going on in their relationship. The alliteration signifies Yeats thinking about the future and what has past: “Maybe the moon may learn”.

·         Things are changing, they are not what they used to be: “And lifts to the changing moon / His changing eyes.”

·         There is something quite dark and sinister about the poem illustrated through Yeats’ reference to “his animal blood”.

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