W.B Yeats Poetry Revision

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  • Created by: Alice.El
  • Created on: 14-05-15 14:19

Leda and the Swan


Leda was ***** by Zeus in the form of a swan, she produced three eggs one which contained Castor and Clytemnestra and the other Pollex and Helen. This was the cause of the Trojan War which could be seen as a parralell to Irish struggle to independance. 

Stanza 1: The attack 

Stanza 2: Her Reaction 

Stanza 3: Bad Result

Revolutionary violence: Maud Gonnes is represented through Leda and the Swan (Zeus) are the revolutionaries

Explores the miltonic idea of what it is to be loved. 

Poem was written after the war in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

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Leda and the Swan

Structure and form: Sonnet- Octave, volta, sestet. 14 lines in iambic pentameter 

Petrarchan structure 

The rhyme scheme of the sonnet is ABAB CDCD EFGEFG 

First Stanza- percussive, almost violent, beats and pauses. The first three words mimic Leda's shock of the attack and the word 'staggering' in the second line has a harsh, sharp sadistic sound. 

Pauses = caesura

Parrallels between the girl and the swan that imply the mating process: great wings/ staggering girl, thighs/dark webs - lead to their convergence in 'breast upon his breat'

The second stanza is more flowing and the speaker begins to reflect philosophically on the situation. 

The third stanza the amount of adjectives used increase and the reader is dropped at the end of the poem like leda is dropped by the swan. 

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Leda and the Swan


Swan: beating, glor, indifferent beak (personification), great wings, brute blood

Leda: terrified, staggered helpless, mastered, maybe resisting to Zeus

Helen: Burning roof and tower, Agammemnon dead 

Zeus: knowledge, indifferent, mastered 

Divine - glory, great, master, knowledge, power, indifferent 

Animal- brute blood, strange heart beating

Death: burning roof and tower Agammemmnon dead

The strong plosive sounds 'brute blood' male words vs sibilance 'white rush' female words movement effects in strong or weak syllabels 

'Brute blood of air' paradoxical, of the air implies heaven where brute blood suggests animals and thus the earth

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Leda and the Swan

References and themes: 

Contrast to The Wild Swans at Coole and their companionship 

Easter 1916 - contrast with harmless nature 

Stolen Child - injustice 

Cold Heaven -Unrequited love analogy

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An Irish Airman forsees his death


Major Robert Gregory, Lady Gregory's only son was a gifted man, an aritist Yeats admired and he was subject to depression and told Yeats that the happiest year of his life was the one he spent fight in the British Army. The poem was completed after his death in 1919. However the poem can be seen to be about a pilot in the war. 

'Kiltartan Cross' = the cross roads near Coole Park 

The poem is a series of balances 

'Waste of breath' a scorn toward aristocracy 

Irish were not all behind WWI some revolutionaries sided with Germany

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An Irish Airman forsees his death

Structure and form: 

16 lines of text arranged in an iambic tetrameter 

Yeats uses a chiasmus of ABCCBA 

Balances: pair of wings, sense of balance, balances convey his indifference and dissolution with cause 

Chiasmus has a mirroring effect

Lots of antitheses 'waste of breath' and 'this death' linking back to breath

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An Irish Airman forsees his death


'bring them loss/ or leave them happier' - antithesis - conflicting or contradicting

'tumult' connotations of noise and confusing = wind 

Public reason for fighting and dying = none ' nor law, nor duty bade me flight/ nor public man, nor cheering crowds' - litany- pragmatic simple persona 

Little personal reasons for flight given too - indifferent- very detached- 'somewhere among the clouds above' - gentle softness expressing love for flying. 

Airplane suggested through the rhythm and chiasmus 

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An Irish Airman forsees his death

References and Themes: 

Contrast to Easter 1916 or September 1913 absence of violence and passion 

Contrast to In Memory of Eva Goore Booth and Con Markievics 

Stolen child transported to another world 

Fisherman - simplicity and solitude

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The fisherman


·         This poem, completed in 1916 before he wrote Wild Swans, describes the ideal reader of his poetry, who paradoxically is probably not the kind of person to ever read any poetry.

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The fisherman

Structure and Form:

·         Alternating rhyme

·         Iambic trimeter

·         Punctuation – full stop after ‘wise and simple man’ creates caesura. Absoluteness. Simplicity reflecting simplicity of man. 

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The fisherman


·         Wise and simple man’ -> oxymoronic. Suggests intelligence but lack of need for materialistic living.

·         Semantics of simplicity: ‘grey Connemara clothes’, ‘grey place on a hill’

·         Connected with ‘dawn’ – associations of freshness, not ruined. ‘Sun-freckled’ – composite adjective, link to nature and vitality. Rural out-door nature.

·         grey place on a hill’ sense of isolation

·         The eyes’ – the gaze – impersonal. ‘The face’ use of the definite article ‘the’ – specific – narrow margin of a type of person he is writing for

·         Own race’ = countrymen of Ireland, not landowners of Dublin

·         The dead man that I loved’ – O’Leary – president of the literary society


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The fisherman

'The craven man in his seat’ – cowardly not standing up, ‘shivering prayer’ in September 1913

·         The witty man’ – sarcastic/mocking tone – Yeats doesn’t find him funny

·         Catch-cries of the clown’ – September 1913 – motley

·         The down-turn of his wrist’ – use of punctuation of hyphen joins words, reflecting quick motion. Link to writing? Both trying to catch something.

·         ‘When flies drop in the stream’ – precise and skilled – simple but skilled – parallel to ‘skill’ of Yeats’ poetry. Yeats = fisherman

·         As cold and passionate as the dawn’ – simile – something the fisherman can understand being connected with dawn – written for him – Yeats small attempt at poem for fisherman. Link to ‘cold companionable streams’ in Wild swan? Paradoxical as heat usually = passion. Poem can ever be for fisherman as that type of person would not read poetry.

·         Fisherman symbolic of Old Romantic Ireland 

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The fisherman

Themes and References:

·         Man I love… man I hate’ – compare with chiasmus’ in Irish Airman (solitude)

·         September 1913 – people he hates

Wild Swans at Coole – solitude of Yeats himself

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Man and the Echo


        Written in 1938, just before Yeats’ death. This is a personal reflection on Yeats poetic career. Here his poems seem to accuse him of having responsibility for some terrible effects. However at the end he turns once again to the world of nature and finds some distraction in it from his haunting thoughts. The echo-device, the trick is to use the closing words of the speaker’s remarks to provide an answer.

        ‘Alt’ – rocky cleft near Sligo, said to be entrance to Spirit world 'that play’ – Cathleen Houlihan – personification of Ireland – played by Maud Gonne Certain men’ – those shot after the Easter Rising That woman’ – Margot Ruddock House’ – Coole Park Bodkin’ – a dagger, alluding to hamlet’s soliloquy on suicidebody and its stupidity’ – the stupor or inertia induced by purely physical life ‘A stricken rabbit is crying out’ Yeats once heard a Rabbit squeal which moved him to give up shooting

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Man and the Echo

Structure and Form:

      Conversation between man and an echo 

     Rhyming couplets (simplest rhyme form)

     Echo – haunting tone, frustrates answer, talking to himself, conflicts arguing with himself, deliberately

    Stream of consciousness

          Trochaic tetrameter

      Effect of Echo: “lie down and die”, “into the night” – echo takes his words out of context, changing their meaning and representing the lack of control one has after words are spoken. Yeats argues against the echo emulating his frustration at the misinterpretation, manipulation and misuse of his works by others

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Man and the Echo

Language:  Rock described in stanza 1 – ‘stone’ – not lit – personified night –Easter 1916’s stone - opposition to life. Opinionated people with one idea.

    ‘but body gone he sleeps no more’ – death wont be restful due to sins shall we in that great night rejoice?’ – questioning whether death a release, or punishment/judgment great night’ = death?

     Echo – extension of himself – negative view – encourages suicide, internal conflict Ghostly tone, haunted by sense of unknowing

           Contrast between body and soul, Body is mortal, soul/poetry is eternal (‘unageing intellect’Two types of release: false – drugs, real – atonement. Among Schoolchildren, ‘recollection of the drug decide’ baby forgetting previous life. Body stupid as selfish, physical reasons = physical results, need balance/ harmony – body stupid if forgets soul entirely.Man travelling – parodying the journey to the Oracle of Delphi suggesting a need for answers hawk or owl preying on ‘stricken rabbit’ symbolizes life and death and the present moment – distracting from philosophical thoughts – living in moment more important

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Man and the Echo

References + Themes:

ð  Sailing to Byzantium – ‘unageing intellect’ – poetry. Here ‘intellect’ = soul. Contrasted opinion to ‘sages standing in God’s holy fire’ here, that all existence, even intellect, is lost to man when he ‘sinks at last into the night’ suggesting a nothingness after death

ð  Drugs – Among Schoolchildren

ð  Conflict – Cold Heaven

ð  The Fisherman – confliction over point of poetry

ð  Contrast to Irish Airman where death escapes meaningless life, here his view is to bear the toils and hardships of life. 

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The second coming


·         Apocalyptic

·         Written soon after WW1, participants dearly hoped it would be the last war as it was so horrific, not long after Easter Rising

·         Gyres (metaphor for history), geometrical shape, represent elemental forces in the historical cycle, each beginning in the purity of a concentrated point and dissipating into chaos and despair (or vice versa). ‘Widening’ suggest the degeneration.

·         The Second Coming’ suggests the return of Jesus, religious implications. Golden Age, initiating 1000 years of peace 

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Second Coming

Structure and Form:

·         Iambic pentameter, however the first line of each section begins with a trochee, putting emphasis on the ‘turn’ in ‘turning and turning’ delivering a sense of the cyclic movement. Similarly the last line begins with a trochee

·         Many pyrrhic (or unstressed) feet which enhance the stresses that follow them, like ‘-ing in’ in the first line

·         No end rhymes and little rhyming altogether, though many echoes and repetition e.g. ‘falcon’ and ‘falconer’, ‘turning and turning’, ‘at hand’ and ‘at hand’, ‘Second Coming’ x2. Effect of this irregularity – sense of recorded hallucination/dream, cyclic nature. Centrifugal circling – imagery, structure, repetition.

·         Structure: present -> Past -> Future

·         Genre- gothic horror

·         Free verse – chaos, visionary nature 

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The second coming


·         Falcon cannot hear the falconer’ – victim of chaos, highlighting lack of order as bird of prey is victim. Symbolizing the violence of war has taken over the purpose of War. Reaching peak in violence

·         Repetition of ‘turning and turning’ – spinning, cycles, confusing –not clear what the image is reflecting chaos

·         Mere anarchy is loosed’ =only chaos. ‘loosed’ – someone had control therefore active action – caused.

·         Blood-dimmed tide’ – spondee + complex modifier – image of horror – tsunami of blood

·         Ceremony of innocence’passionate intensity’ ‘surely’ x2 – sibilance


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The second coming

  ‘     The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intentsity’ – sarcastic tone 

n       ‘Hardly are those words out’ – movement forward through quick monosyllabic words

·         Spiritus Mundi’ – spirit of the world – collection of images

·         Shape with lion body and the head of a man’ – sphinx beginning to move, date from 2000 BC, eerie, inhuman, indescribable. ‘beast’ – not human signifying humanity loosing control. Horrific imagery

A      'gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun’ – simile – suffocating, uncomfortable heat relatable. Sibilance ‘sun’, ‘pitiless’, ‘slow thighs’, reflecting gradual movment and sound of sand (serpent = man’s downfall). Relate to sound of feathers in Leda and the Swan.

·         Stony sleep’ – metaphor – stony unusual to be applied to sleep. Sphinx – dormant – transferred epithet, should be stony sleeper. Suggests uncomfortable sleep

·         Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?’ – slouches = vivid verb. Bethlehem = link to Christianity and religion. Rhetorical question. 

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The second coming

References + Themes:

·         Stolen Child + Leda and the swan – otherworld

·         Sense of cycles – Wild swans at Coole, The Cat and the Moon

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Sailing to byzantium


·         Byzantium, synonymous with artistic freedom (title hints at metaphorical search for artistic perfection), was the name of the ancient capital of the eastern Church (present day Istanbul) which all his life Yeats thought of as a kind of ideal community of workers and thinkers, and its ancient churches as the epitome of beauty. He imagined Byzantine craftsmen as philosophers as well as artists, although he never went there.

·         No country for old men’ – the new Irish Free State where Yeats was made senator in 1922

·         Yeats is not happy about being a public man in Ireland, wants to go back to being a poet, and takes his mind away to somewhere permanent, where things are transcendent.

·         Everything alive (animals + people) all dying

·         Emperor’s garden story: silver and gold tree, mechanical birds (a nightingale) preferred, but when dying only a real one could save him 

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Sailing to Byzantium

Structure and Form:

·         Ottava Rima (a-b, a-b, a-b, c-c) classical form commonly used for heroic/romantic poems. The romantic poets inspired Yeats by expressing how they lived their lives in solitude with unreciprocated love.

·         4 stanzas

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sailing to byzantium


·         Title: ‘sailing’ places emphasis on journey not destination

·         That’ = Ireland

·         Fish, flesh or fowl’ – tricolon – alliteration – different categories encompassing everything

·         Whatever is begotten, born and dies’ – tricolon + alliteration – linking words. People enjoying life don’t worry about what he thinks is important.

·         Monuments of unageing intellect’ – thoughts + art – eternal – poetry and literature - monuments that are mental not physical. Unageing – different semantic field.

·  .


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Sailing to Byzantium

       A tattered coat upon a stick’ – empty inside (no soul) – perhaps materialistic? ‘tattered’ suggests flaws – neglected, broken, damaged. Frail + Weak -> physical correspondence to weak soul. Repetition of ‘tatter’ later.

·         ‘Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing’ can no longer hear ‘sensual music’ and so must make own – make his soul sing

·         ‘mortal dress’ = body

·         monuments of its own magnificence’ – architecture + literature – historical triumphs, statues. Condemning tone – people saying how magnificent they are – Yeats disagrees

·         Sages’ – saints/philosophers – wise men in heaven

·         God’s holy fire’ – holy spirit, or mosaic on wall, or burning bush. Fire = passion

·         Dying animal’ – body – pathos at horrific imagery

·         of what is past, or passing, or to come’ – tricolon. Syntactically yoking past, present and future together signifying eternity reflecting Byzantium

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Sailing to Byzantium

References + Themes:

·         Among Schoolchildren – contrast of comfortable scarecrow with ‘tattered coat upon a stick’

·         The Second Coming – ‘perne in a gyre’

·         Contrast to Easter 1916

·         Stolen Child – escaping

·         Leda and the Swan – celestial + divine semantics

·         The Man and the Echo after death

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Among Schoolchildren


·         In February 1926 Yeats, now a senator in the Irish Parliament, visited St Otteran’s convent Girl’s school which was run on Montessori principles, to write a report. He believes education should encourage wholeness of being, not just labour e.g. ciphering, reading or sewing.

·         Ledean body… daughters of the swan’ – born of Leda and the swan (i.e. Helen)

·         Plato’s parable – story about origins of love – human beings 8 limbed globes divided into 4 limber hemispheres, searching for other half

·         Quattrocento – 15C thin-faced virgins in gothic pictures.

·         Honey of generation’ – the sweetness of the sexual act

·         Recollection of the drug’ – the baby might recall a prior existence were he not stopped by painkilling drugs taken by his mother

·         Spume that plays’ – Plato taught physical world only a shadow of an ideal upper world

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Among Schoolchildren

  ‘      'soldier Aristotle’ – Aristotle gave more dignity to the world of matter than Plato did and taught Alexander the Great

·         Pythagoras’ – early mathematician and musician – soul migrates from one body to the other when soul first dies

·         Old bones upon sticks’ – suggesting all 3 philosophers don’t care about the decay of the physical body. Or different ‘clothes’ you can put on – accept different ideas. None of their ideas overcame their bodies decay.

·         Presence/ that passion, piety or affection know’ – the presences beloved by the lover, the monk and the mother respectively

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Among schoolchildren

Structure and Form:

·         Ottava Rima – 8 stanzas with 8 lines

·         Regular rhyme scheme of abababcc

·         Roman numeral heads each stanza – reflects development and learning

·         Poem of self reflection, ‘smiling public man’ - superficial

·         Starts in present -> past (s2) 

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Among Schoolchildren


·         Cipher and to sing/ to study…’ – list like, pragmatic, reflecting labour

·         ‘In the best modern way’ – slightly mocking tone

·         Ledaean body’ Helen of Troy = Maud Gonne – talking about moment from childhood. ‘I dream’ replaces ‘I walk’ – mind wandering – stream of consciousness – rhythm broken at end of first line of stanza 2 signaling spiral into imagination.

·         And took a mess of shadows for its meat?’ – just eats shadows and drinks wind – images of insubstantial. Wind + shadows also suggest impermanence as well as her body seen as ‘image’

·         The memory of her drives his heart so ‘wild’ that she appears ‘to stand before me as a child’- rhyming couplet makes this an auhoritive statement – the poet’s imagination is triumphant over time and circumstance

·         Float’ verb – gives situation a spectral quality – the present image is less powerful than the past.  Blossoming and dancing – evocative images of vital beauty

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Among SchoolChildren

References + Themes:

·         Fisherman (body raised through art of skill?)

·         Sailing to Byzantium (icons/sages + ‘old scarecrow’)

·         Broken Dreams (imaging of old age)

·         Leda and the swan (did she take on wisdom?)

·         Cold Heaven – ‘heart driven wild’ – return of passion

·         In memory of Eva G-B and CM – decaying feminine beauty 

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The Stolen Child


·         The Poem opposes Fairyland Island to the real world

·         Poet in poem: perhaps expresses Yeats’ ambiguous attitude to world of imagination and poetry? Escape into Yeats’ childhood in Sligo? The poem also represents his early interest in Irish folklore.

·         The Poem could be a metaphor for the return to innocence that characterizes childhood as a child is lured away into a Fantasy

·         Yeast younger brother’s death?

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The Stolen Child

Form and Structure: • Form: stanzas with refrain:  Repetition of refrain reflects youthfulness and thus innocence.  ‘Waters and the Wild’ = nature/freedom – Yeats dissatisfied with society as it has moved away from nature/freedom/innocence to a mundane and urban lifestyle. Alliteration of ‘w’ in ‘to the waters and the wild’ gives a wispy weak sound creating the sense of multiple speakers which is heightened through the plural pronouns such as ‘we’, creating an eerie intimidation the reader is aware of, threatening quality.  ‘Human child’, therefore speaker not human, eerie and unsettling. • Iambic trimeter; variation in wistful long last line • Triplet Pulse (except refrain where there are four) • Structure: Folk-tale narrative – song with refrain – tripe rhythm so dance • Irregular Rhyme scheme (changes from stanza to stanza) variating with themes. • Uses a mixture of alternating rhyme and rhyming couplets. Yeats uses this to create a jaunty hypnotic voice that mirrors the ‘faeries’ enticing nature. • Very fluid reflecting movement of water as well as isolating the ‘island’ freeing it from the restraints of society.

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The Stolen Child

Language: • Strong imagery through onomatopoeic techniques, ‘flapping’, ‘drowsy’, ‘gushes’, adds depth to nature and interacts with reader • Repetition adds musical quality, ‘mingling hands and mingling glances’. ‘Mingling’ trochee – breaks rhythm – sense of going backwards reflecting nature of the dance • Semantics of domesticity, ‘calves’, ‘hillside’, ‘kettle’, ‘hob’, ‘oatmeal’, presented in a positive way through beneficial connotations of words such as ‘warm’, has associations of home and safety which contrast with the mystical and unknown of the faeries world and unnerving ‘stolen cherries’, presents faeries negatively as taking away from safety. • ‘Oatmeal’ – hot comfort food and a reminder of loved ones contrasted with insubstantial ‘stolen cherries’ suggests unsustainable happiness.

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The Stolen Child

References + Theme: • Theme of escape – but also death/life compare words that also occur in The Cat and The Moon (troubles/light/moon/wandering) • Celebration of countryside also seen in The Wild Swans at Coole and The Fisherman • Theme of intervention of otherworld into reality also in The Second Coming and Leda and The Swan (where it is much more menacing)

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The Cat and the Moon

Introduction: • What might the cat and the moon represent?  Life and death?  Mind and body?  Time and eternity? • Poet within poem: Is Yeats like the mortal cat looking up to an ideal moon?

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The Cat and the Moon

Form and Structure: • Triple beat – 3 iambs – makes it dancey with lots of unstressed syllables (look at longer lines) • Structure: develops a story in which the moon and cat seem to affect each other – narrative in 3rd person • Rhythm variations to suggest dancing cat (‘do you dance minalouche?’) and stiller moon (‘pure cold light’) • Alliteration brings cat to life, ‘wander’ ‘wail’ ‘creeping’ ‘change to change’ • Unnamed third party being addressed. ‘Top’ and ‘up’ half para rhyme. • One stanza with no divisions, Modulates from one rhythmic pattern to another, reflecting changing in two species.

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The Cat and the Moon

Language: • ‘The Cat went…’ expanding on the title • Semantics of movement for both Cat and Moon, o Moon: changeless change ‘spun round like a top’, ‘taken a new phrase’ ‘courtly fashion’. o Cat: ‘creeping’, ‘wander’, ‘wails’, ‘runs lifting’, ‘dance’ ‘pass from change to change’ (more lively than the moon) blood – more character than the moon + name – teasing tone • Contrast in colour between the two, moon – ‘pure cold light’, cat ‘ black minnaloushe’. • Both alike in the changefulness – kinship but also cat troubled by moon. • ‘creeping cat’ alliteration, mysterious. ‘Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?’ – cat addressed, name = significance. ‘Minnaloushe creeps through the grass’ – repeated x 2. Imagery • ‘And from that round to crescent,/ From crescent to round they range?’ imagery. • Cyclic nature – lunar cycle. • Rhetorical question. Interrogative. MG = moon, out of reach, unaffected, Yeats = Cat, affected by moon, creature of night,

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The Cat and the Moon

References + Themes: • Time/change • Life/death • Storytelling of Irish animal fables • Easter 1916 vs September 1913 • Leda and the swan as heavenly force disturbs in human personality • The warm blood of the cat suggests the ‘hot blood of youth’ in The Cold Heaven and Among Schoolchildren

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September 1913

Introduction: • Expressing the change of Ireland from when it was cultural and romantic characterized by the romantic heroes such as ‘John O’Leary’ to the greed of the merchant class. Yeats agrees with aims of revolutionaries but feels little is achieved. • Written after the Dublin citizens lack of contribution of supporters to encourage the placement of Hugh Lane’s impressionist pictures collection in a gallery for Dubliners, ended up at the National Portrait Gallery • Contrast between present sled-serving and cowardly Irishmen and those of revolutionary past (romantic – but not dead) • Later he said that when he wrote this poem he did foresee the Easter Rebellion (which could be seen in the tradition of ‘Romantic Ireland’ • Poet within poem:  Personal bitterness and also affection for O’Leary, former Finian leader and then prisoner and exile, whom he made the first president of the Irish Literary Association in 1892 and who had died in 1907

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September 1913

Structure and Form: • Iambic tetrameter –marching rhythm • Masculine rhyme emphasized • Alternate rhyme –march-like • Save repeated – emphasizing difference between types • Refrain – past contrasts to present stanza – jaunty • Repetition of phrase/structure – anaphora • Sarcastic verbal tone – some words ‘pray and save’ are spat out. Irony. • Tone – sarcastic -> nostalgic -> didactic -> mournful • ‘God help us’ – speech – didactic – conversational • ‘was it for’ – anapest • ‘wild geese’ – spondee • ‘grey wing’ – spondee – reflection of geese movement – stillness – swoop • ‘loneliness and pain’ – dactyl -> spondee emphasizes pain • ‘delirium’ – false hope – multiples syllables

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September 1913

Language: • O’Leary to Yeats was symbolic of national integrity, patriotism and reverence. • ‘Fumble in greasy till’, ‘fumble’ has connotations of haste reflecting their greed. ‘Greasy’ has associations of disgust and grime taking an oversized swipe at industry. • ‘Marrow from the bone’ – greed draining life from society, weakening it and individuals, reveals the extent of Yeats’ disgust for behavior. • ‘Prayer to shivering prayer’ – anti-Catholic – unsympathetic, attacking, • ‘They have gone about the world like wind’ – natural imagery = revolutionary heroes. Free spirits, independent, mounting force and direction – achieving little, • ‘But little time had they to pray’ – busy, selfless, active • ‘Wild geese’ – plural. Exiled revolutionaries. Term given to soldiers who left to serve in continental Europe in 17C and 18C. • ‘Delirium of the brave?’ –madness. Bravery but not always positive. • Yeats attacks the middle classes who are fixated on protecting themselves through saving money, ‘add the halfpence to the pence’ and spiritually for heaven, ‘pray and save’. ‘Pray and save’ is verbally very soft and slows the pace down creating a bitterness through the irony as Yeats is saying the opposite of what he means, he is being sarcastic and faking care. • Didactic Poem. • ‘Dried marrow’ loosing freshness and vivacity • ‘Wind’ – spreading word – broadcasting?

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September 1913

References + Themes: • Easter 1916 • The Fisherman • In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and CM

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Easter 1916

Introduction: • England passed a Home Rule Bill in 1913 but suspended it in 1914 because of the war • In a sense the poem is about the transformation of the causal comedy into tragedy, ‘under historical pressure, the rebels… grow impersonal, universal, outside the flux of nature, no more individuals than stones or tombstones’ • 24th – 30th April 1916 – Part of Ireland wanted to be independent and part wanted to stay under English reign

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Easter 1916

Structure and Form: • Rhythm – 3 beats in line • Voice – ambivalent, confliction of emotions, his opinion is ambiguous. • Parallel story (analogy) to Yeats’ love life • REFRAIN: ‘All changed, changed utterly:’ both positive and negative, perception of individual changed, dead, immortalized, heroes, chiasmus – changes in middle, appropriate ‘a terrible beauty is born’ – disturbing but intoxicatingly exciting – oxymoron • ‘All changed’ – spondee, chiasmus – signifies moving backwards – comma signifies death (shot), contrast with born • Disparaging tone through ‘meaningless’ and ‘motley’ • I -> We (distanced initially) • ‘Meaningless’ – dactyl, extra syllables = weak • Number symbolism (4 stanzas of 24 lines suggesting April 24th, the day the rebellion began) • Structure of Yeats’ thought as it changes through the poem – use of questions and other changes at the end • Pivotal point, after second, 1 & 2 past, 3 – timeless, 4 – future • Stanzaic, trimester - strong sense of forward movement

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Easter 1916

Language: • Stanza 3 notes paradoxically that these martyrs are all changed in becoming unchanging: their hearts, united by one purpose, have become unchanging as stone, in disturbing contrast to the living stream of ordinary human life. • In a characteristic shift of mood, Yeats uses the stone metaphor to warn of the danger of fanaticism: “Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart.” ‘counter’ links to September 1913, greed. • Semantics of ordinary life: ‘desk’, ‘grey Eighteenth-century houses’, ‘nod of the head’, ‘polite meaningless words’. Evocation of town life. • Avoids naming revolutionaries – assumes reader knows/distancing himself. • ‘Motley’ – mocking, different colours. • ‘Her voice grew shrill’ – taken over by revolutionary zeal. • ‘Casual comedy’ = ordinary life. • ‘Plashes within it’ – dactyl – evocation of nature. Natural imagery (S2) contrasted with grey, grim reality of revolution. ‘Minute by minute they change… changes minute by minute’ – chiasmus • ‘Winged horse’ - poetry

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Easter 1916

References + Themes: • September 1913 • In memory of Eva Gore-Booth • Irish Airman • Sailing to Byzanitum • Man and The Echo

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In Memory of GB and CM

Introduction: • Written 1927 to hour the sisters who had died in the last year (Con in 1926, Eva in 1927) who he had admired since he met them in 1894. • The poet meditates on time and change – the sisters like MG have been affect/ ruined by both. Spiritual death upon entering politics – as if there exists a tangible life/death divide between women in their states of pre- and post- political awareness. • In 1909, he believed ‘Women, because the main event in their lives has been giving themselves and giving birth give all to an opinion as if it were some terrible stone doll’ • CM – unpleasant memory as beautiful ones overlaid with sad memories – ‘drags out lonely years’ – social deteriation • ‘he believed that opinions, especially political opinions, destroy a woman’s intergrity’

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In Memory of GB and CM

Structure and Form: • Double elegy to the two women • Conversational but also clear rhythm and rhyme moving from regret to a striking almost ecstatic defiance • Rhyming units of four – quartets- abba cddc – including may relaxed half rhymes – linking backwards – past/present/memories • Historic present = written as present but past • Iambic tetrameter • ‘Beautiful, one a gazelle’ – beautiful is a dactyl, slows pace to a stop, static. Mournful. • ‘Dear Shadows’ – addressing the girls

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In Memory of GB and CM

Language: • ‘The light of evening’ brings with it connotations of purity and goodness, =sisters youth. ‘Gazelle’ = Eva, said to have gazelle like beauty. In literature gazelle symbolizes feminine beauty. Perhaps prey to political ideas? • ‘But a raving autumn shears/ blossom from the summer’s wreath’ – expresses how a progressed phase can devalue and degrade the period of time before it – metaphor for the spiritual death of the sisters when they lost their innocence and beauty and became involved in politics. ‘the older is condemned to death/ pardoned,’ – quite a dismissive tone showing that he doesn’t believe there actions are of any benefit to Ireland. 'When withered old and skeleton-gaunt’ – hyperbole used to enrich the poetry and create a more forceful forlorn and sorrowful tone. •‘Utopia’ – means – an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect - ironic tone as he is mocking her– ‘some vague’ is very dismissive – showing that he doesn’t believe what she was fighting for was worth losing her youth, innocence and beauty for as she achieved little. • Last eight lines express how he wishes he could take them back to their youth. ‘Silk kimonos’ reflect there upper-class background and express how Yeats cherished that aspect of them – and also shows their beauty before politics – the fact that these two lines are repeated emphasizes what a loss Yeats feels. • Repetition of ‘Two girls in silk kimonos, both/ Beautiful, one a gazelle,’ repetition enclosing/encapsulating past – idealization • ‘Gazelle’ – prey for political ideas, a weakness? • Image of burning of time: does this mean going backwards into the past?

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In Memory of GB and CM

References + Themes: • Broken Dreams – memories, decaying feminine beauty • Easter 1916 – CM ‘voice grew shrill’ • Among Schoolchildren • Sailing to Byzantium – move to eternity • Man and the Echo

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The Cold Heaven

Introduction: • Written 1912 and published in 1914 in ‘Responsibilities’. The critic Allbright refers to a passage from ‘A Vision’ (1925) describing how the soul, after death, moves towards the oblivion of life through a number of stages. One of these stages is called dreaming, in which; the Spirit is compelled to live over and over again the event which had most moved it… the most intense first • Or the ghost in this poem could be seen as Love personified. Should be dead but unsettled. Unrequited = punished.

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The Cold Heaven

Structure and Form: • ‘Reduced’ sonnet • Alternate Rhymes (or half-rhymes) ababcdcdefef • Alternate 12 and 14 syllable line length • Metre loosely iambic – again represents an experiment in form • Structure: one sentence forms whole poem – note ‘volta’ and ‘Ah’ leading into the final question • Enjambment – looks like pros • ‘Cried and trembled and rocked to and thro’ – ascending tricolon, phrases get longer, increasing in pace and intensity

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The Cold Heaven

Language: • Dynamic/ violent/ emotive sematic field – burn, drive, vanish, cry, tremble, rock, riddle, sent out, stricken • Highly ambiguous. • Imagery full of contrasts/inversions through oxymorons and paradoxes. Contrast of ‘hot blood of youth’ and ‘cold heaven’. • Past and present collapse and merge through the single sentence grammatically unifying vision of past, present and future, the syntax yokes these paradoxes together into some kind of unity. • ‘the death bed over’ – ablative absolute – confusing, ambiguous, means ‘when the confusion of the death bed was over’ • Contrasting colours – red blood, black rook, white ice. • ‘rook delighting’ – onomatopoeia, composite adjective/modifier – shouldn’t be happening. ‘should be out of season’ – should be forgotten, natural reference reflecting sincerity of emotion not superficial. • ‘Love crossed’ – spondee, unrequited love, or love on cross? • ‘Injustice of the skies’ attacking fate. Reluctantly in love and punished by it. Confliction of emotions. • ‘Ghost begins to quicken’ – memories coming back • Older man ‘crying and trembling’ with the revived emotions of youth – reduced to child? – past and present collapse/merge (and future with the ‘ghost’ to come) – singles sentence grammatically unifies vision of past, present and future – young man/ old man/ ghost – in one lacerating revelatory moment – sense of shocking certainty but also of bewilderment – the syntax yokes these paradoxes together into some kind of unity

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The Cold Heaven

References + Themes: • Wild Swans at Coole and Broken Dreams • Second Coming (intense feeling which he tries to put into images) • In Memory of EGB (elegiac)

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Broken Dreams

Introduction: • Written in 1917, this is one of a series of poems that celebrates Maud Gonne’s beauty and also constructs a broken image of her. • It is a poem about memory, time and eternity, perfection and failure, blame and forgiveness- as usual his emotions are in confliction. • When Maud Gonne dies and goes to heaven, Yeats will see her in her beauty of youth, ‘but in the grave all, all, shall be renewed’. Idea of passing of time and everlasting love. Decaying/diminishing beauty.

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Broken Dreams

Structure and Form: • 5 stanzas of irregular length. Ranges from 1st person and a direct address to Maud Gonne. • 3rd person in S2 – recognizing stubborn behavior. No rhyme scheme – although has rhyme (no clear pattern) EFFECT= linking backwards – reflects memories. ‘Ranged’ circling sensation. Sad tone, ‘the last stroke of midnight dies’. Stream of consciousness – reflected in experimental free verse form – suggesting a reverie – personally taking us • Begins in present, ends in future. Odd shaped poem visually, although logical sequences, quality of an interior monologue, automatic writing, letting mind wander. Formal register. Divisions of stanzas represent the progression of his thoughts. S1 prosaic language – once seen beauty for MG. S2 – reminiscent of beauty – timeless quality. S3 – hope for renewal. S4 – renewal in heaven. S5 – snap back into reality. Narrative structure. • Movements between time - confusion

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Broken Dreams

Language: • The title ‘Broken dreams’ suggested unattained ideal. Melancholic tone. Unrequited love. Descriptive and emotive language, ‘when age might have chilled his blood’. Contrasted semantics of age to extenuate passing of time, ‘old gaffer’, ‘youthful eyes’, ‘grey in your hair’, ‘young men’, ‘old man’, ‘the grave’, ‘age might have chilled his blood’, ‘the first loveliness of womanhood’, ‘dies’, Celestial semantics, ‘heaven’, ‘peace’, ‘the grave’, ‘mysterious, always brimming lake’ ‘dream to dream… I have ranged’. ‘Vague memories, nothing but memories’ the repetition of the ‘memories’ slows the pace down emphasizing the time passing. • ‘the poet stubborn with his passion’ • Sense of day and cycle – ‘the last stroke of midnight dies’ – time • ‘Heaven has put away the stroke of her doom’ – favor with heaven, she will be forgiven • ‘for your sole sake’ two spondees – heaviness – reflecting pain/heart ache • ‘Burdensome’ – dactyl – verbal descent – heaviness – negative quality to beauty

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Broken Dreams

References + Themes: • Among Schoolchildren • Easter 1916 – change/time • Stolen Child – change • In Memory of Eva G-B and CM – decaying feminine beauty • Wild Swan at Coole – swan imagery • Sailing to Byzantium – time, looking forward

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The Wild Swans at Coole

Introduction: • Themes of time and constancy? Kinds of Love? • The Poet within the poem:  Relation with Lady Gregory and Coole (first visited in 1887 – this poem was completed in 1917 and describes October 1916. Jeffreys believes that Yeats wrote MSC in a state of despair over his inability to summon much feeling over Maud Gonne’s last rejection of his proposal of marriage (ie this is before he proposes to her daughter and then Georgie in October) • Poetic persona visits lakes which he first visited 19 years ago and reflects how everything has changed for him but nothing for the swans

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The Wild Swans at Coole

Structure and Form: • Written in a very regular stanza form: five six-line stanzas, each written in a roughly iambic meter, with the first and third lines in tetrameter, the second, fourth, and sixth lines in trimeter, and the fifth line in pentameter, so that the pattern of stressed syllables in each stanza is 434353. Draws attention to shorter lines e.g. ‘are nine-and-fifty swans’ The rhyme scheme in each stanza is ABCBDD • Structure of narrative – note stanzas used to be in the order 1, 2, 5, 3, 4, - now ens with 5 – ends in question, progression – swans flying away • First describes the present, then moves to the past, and then to an imagined future involving delight as well as regret • Mirrors e.g. ‘still sky’ vs ‘still water’ reflecting stillness and mirror quality of water, another e.g. ‘lover by lover’ • ‘All’s changed’ – spondee, slows pace, pivotal point. Parallels drawn between Yeats and Swans to emphasize contrast – mirrors – OPPOSITE IMAGE. Pairs vs alone. Movement vs still.

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The Wild Swans at Coole

Language: • Contrast with warmth of autumn ‘autumn beauty’ and cold of ‘twilight’ and streams. Both twilight and Autumn are phase 3 out of 4, changing and movement, contrasted with consistency of swans. • Texture/ Nature semantics, ‘trees’ ‘woodland’ ‘paths’ ‘dry’ ‘stones’ ‘streams’ ‘rushes’. • ‘Lover by lover’ – dactyl – lull to it. • Contrasted alliteration with the hard ‘c’s – sharing hardships, ‘companionable streams’ transferred epithet (swans not streams) bonding/combining two. • ‘Wander where they will’ – soft alliteration. • ‘To find that they have flown away?’ sense of regret/misery. Yeats (passionate) changes lover, less important to him, swans no passion but companionate and loving – monogamous.

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The Wild Swans at Coole

References + Themes:  Leda and the Swan – swan imagery  Easter 1916 – nature verse  The Fisherman – solitude  Irish Airman – detatchment  Second Coming – falcon contrast with swans  Broken Dreams – change, swan imagery

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