The Stolen Child

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The Stolen Child

  • Themes: Irish mythology, possession, death, childhood 
  • LanguageSibilance ‘We Seek for Slumbering trout’ – echoes gentle whispering sound as fairies whisper into ears (sinister and supernatural quality)
  • Archaic syntax ‘Where dips he rocky highland’ – connects fairies with past/world of folklore 
  • Superlative adjective  ‘reddest stolen cherries’ image of danger/temptation 
  • Topographical emphasis ‘Sleuth Wood’ ‘Glen-Car’ – emphasizes focus on location and importance of setting
  • Form and structure: Repetition of refrain- hypnotic quality, similar to lullaby, imperative command makes it more luring
  • Juxtaposition-‘chase the frothy bubbles/the world is full of troubles’ contrast between fun/playful atmosphere and negative image of world
  • Final line of each stanza being the longest ‘For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand’ – disrupts idealistic portrayal of fairy life and introduces sinister element.
  • The line is a personified metaphor - suggests that the sadness interrupts the world.
  • Context: Celtic Twilight movement- revival of Irish culture 
  • Nature idealised over the city suggesting world’s become corrupt ‘world is full of troubles’
  • Based on legend of fairies stealing children from beds and Yeats’ interest in mythology ‘with a faery, hand in hand.’
  • Links: Easter 1916 and September 1913- contain a refrain and ambiguous aspect.
  • Leda and the Swan ’Agamemnon dead’- based upon legendary myth
  • Easter 1916- ambiguity over actions of rebels links to that of the fairies
  • Key quotes: ‘Reddest stolen cherries’ ‘Come away, O human child!’ ‘For the world’s more full of weeping’ ‘For he comes, the human child’
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