The Stolen Child
- Published 1889
- One of Yeats more significant early poems
- On the surface the poem is about Irish mythology and folk lore as Yeats has always been interested in Irish traditions.
- The poem is also about Yeats' complicated feelings about Ireland and the way its changing.
- The belief of changelings existing was common amongst the Irish until late 1895, this poem was published in 1889, Yeats was fascinated by the supernatural.
- The fantasy Yeats is describing s a real place, an Irish town called Sligo. The knowledge of this context allows us to understand how highly Yeats thought of his mothers hometown.
- This poem was inspired by two events in 1913, the General Strike and the Hugh Lane affair.
- Yeats felt there was a real lack of art and literature at this time.
- It is a political poem, which contrasts against Yeats' celtic poem style.
- Everything in this poem points to a pointless sacrfrice.
- Yeats potrays aspects of Irelands history around the 1900's, when Ireland was fighting for independance, during this time Ireland was going through agonising trouble.
- The employer's federation decided to lock out their workers in order to break their resistance, by the end of September 25'000 workers were said to have been affected.
- His readers are able to see how Yeats reflects the political, social and cultural atmosphere in Ireland during the 1900's.
The Cold Heaven
- Published in 1914, at the start of WW1.
- It is about the failure of remorse for love (Maud Gonne)
- Moves from being incredibly personal in the first half, to incredibly universal in the second.
- It is also about the fear that remorse will continue after death.
- T.S Eliot 1940 - 'it makes one sit up in excitment and eagerness to learn more about the author's mind and feelings.'
- Moves from being incredibly personal in the first half to incredibly universal in the second.
- First half of the poem looks at life and remorse, second half is looking towards death.
An Irish Airman forsees his Death
- It is a nationalist poem written in first person, it is a monologue with a clear speaking voice.
- The speaking voice in the poem could be Majord Robert Gregory, an upper class airman, a figure to be admired as he cares about the poor people of Ireland.
- The poem is about weighing up things in life, balancing the wings of a plane whilst balancing the good and bad in life.
- He is physically above the war, and is literally above the battle below him - he was literally and metaphorically risen above the war, emphasising his distance from the war and his feelings towards it.
- Robert Gregory, the symbolic airman is not fighting for Britain or even Ireland.
- The poem is largely concerned with Yeats disillusionment with contemporary Dublin society as outlined in the second part of the first stanza.
- This poem paints a romantic and idealistic picture of an Irishan and the Ireland that Yeats loves.
- The fisherman is an ideal, simple man, who is wise and close to nature.
- Yeats is forced to take refuge in his imagination to concieve the fisherman in his mind, turning his back on reality.
- We excpect a natural scene of a fisherman, living in the countryside and living a peaceful life.
- The romantic picture of the fisherman contrasts with realistic Ireland.
- The poem was published in 1917, just after Yeats' last proposed to Maud Gonne.
- Yeats considers many different themes in this poem, with topics of memory, politics, death, the afterlife and unrequited love.
- The issue of beeauty that emerges in this poem is most noteworthy, especialy in relation to the ageing porcess, and especially with the modern fixation of keeping appearances unblemished.
- The poet explores different aspects of his intense feelings for Maud.
- The poem is as much about writing poetry as it is remembering Maud.
- The poem explores different images of Maud, present, past, idealised, transient and as a memory.
- The poem explores the loveliness and perfection of his beloved but alose the drama of ageing and loss
Sailing to Byzantium
- Written in 1926, marking a point in Yeats' maturity.
- Yeats is concerned with greek art, he is interested in the nature of art and is asking whether your soul can live on through art.
- The poet is on a jounrey which is usually a transformation.
- Yeats expresses his frustratiom with the war, and the way in which no one else is learning what they should from all the deaths associated with it.
- This poem was published after the majority of the deaths, yet there was still so much violence going on between the IRA and the British.
- Yeats decides he is going to learn from the mistakes of others, himself and says this is the reason he has 'sailed the seas and came to the holy city of Byzantium'.
The Wild Swans at Coole
- Published in 1917
- Coole park is located in County Galway, it was the home to Lady Gregory, a patron of the arts and one of Yeats' closest friends - Yeats was just 3 miles away.
- The poet contemplates the passing time as he thinks back over his many stays at Coole Park.
- It's 'wild swans' become a metaphor for the loveliness of beauty, time, life and poetic inspiration.
The Second Coming
- Published 1920, after the first world war.
- This poem is a perfect example of Yeats' use of symbolism
- The speaker describes a nightmarish scene.
- The poem was written at a time of fundamental change.
- The second coming implies there has been a first coming, the birth of Jesus or the book of revalation, or the first world war.
- Yeats thought Europe had been completely devastated by the war.
- The poem was written by Yeats with the intention to criticise contemporary Ireland.
- Yeats fels although the order of contemporary Ireland has dissapeared and it now suffers 'mere anarchy'.
- Yeats commemorates the Easter rising (24th of April 1916)
- The poem is about transformations and poetry and a poets job.
- Yeats was a proud Irish Republican, while he had qualms about the violent rebellion against Britain, he was angered at the execution of the Irish leaders, who he blieved had sacrificed themselves for Ireland.
- This event happened on 24th April 1916, Yeats published the poem on the 24th September 1916, Yeats deliberately tells us this at the end of the poem, showing his refelction and analysis of the situation.
- Yeats openly tells us he did not take the rebles seriously he used to 'mock' them, this openness makes it effective.
Leda and the Swan
- Written 1923, published 1924 and the story Leda and the Swan is based on a myth.
- Zeus becomes a swan and rapes Leda and Leda gave birth to 3 eggs, one being Helen of Troy
- Yeats believes ina cycle that violence breeds violence
- In choosing this myth Yeats is placing himself in a literary place as he is comparing himself to Italian painters.
- One theory is that Old Ireland is being ***** and loosing its beauty and tradition.
- Yeats is saying that you have to settle that selfish scts do sometimes happen.
- Yeats raises questions of power and knowledge, the links between violence, love and war, and the issue of whether or not history is an accident or deisgn, a god's art or a god's indifference.
In memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz
- This was written after the death of Eva and Con, Yeats is mourning them and their youth.
- The changes in the women allow Yeats to comment on aheing and mortality but they also become symbolic of Yeats views on politics.
- Yeats conjures up a very real place for us, Yeats celebrates and is dissilousioned by the rebellion.
- In Eater 1916 Yeats said in his final lines he felt the need to write these names and report them in history.
- By naming these women Yeats is imortilising them from the start
- Both girls are remembered for their beauty and principle, now the victims of time
Among School Children
- The poem is very reflective on Yeats current and past feelings
- Yeats is moving through moods within the poem, similar to how memory works, Yeats shows how we switch around from different ideas and thoughts.
- The poem is about opposites, unity vs division, looking for answers and the impossibility of finding them.
- Each stanza is different, Yeats goes from the public man, to the private and then a balance of both public and private to the present, the process of having a child, philosophy, different meanings and the real meaning of the poem is found in the last stanza.
- Yeats questions at the end and these questions celebrate the desire to know and experience but they also tell us we cannot know all the answers.
- We all search for answers and meaning but we will never get any.
Man and the Echo
- Published in 1938-1939, at the end of Yeats career not long before he died.
- This form of a dialoguse between one voice and an echo is a very archaic form.
- The purpose of this form is to set up a dialogue between two different view points.
- This is a self analytical poem
- The poem frequently moves between the positive and negative throughout its discussion
- Poem is about searching for meaning and our inability to find answers
- Intensely personal poem about Yeats looking over his life
- Set in the countryside, rural place, very isolated and private, very reflective place.
The Cat and the Moon
- Deliberately allusive in meaning and undenyingly symbolic.
- The poem concerns Yeats' interest in the supernatural and Yeats certainly constructed his own set of beliefs which included Yeats theory of the power of the moon
- The moon has always been associated with the female, it is a very potent and feminine and powerful symbol
- The poem can also be interpreted as being about relationships - evidence of this is that Minnaloushe is Maud and her daughter's cat, there could be an argument that the relationship between the cat and the moon, parallels the complexed relationship between Yeats and Maud Gonne.
- You have to accept that this poem is about things that are opposite but that are also connected.
- It is important to remmeber that this poem can just be seen as a quirky and lively descriptrion of a cat