· Life and death
o Being among schoolchildren, Yeats confronts human frailty, reflecting on the inevitability of death and the worth of his life.
· Body and soul
o Whereas in Sailing to Byzantium Yeats attempts to separate the separate parts of his dual self (body and soul), in Among Schoolchildren he seems to come to terms with the existence of himself as a whole and to value the beauty of this
o We cannot separate the dancer from the dance. We cannot divide life into the leaf the blossom or the bole, analysing each individual part. Instead one must see life with a brightening glance, the beauty of its entirety.
o In the final stanza Yeats recognises that although people are the sum of their separate deeds, life is an amalgamation of actions. One cannot separate life from death or aging. One should not look at these independently but consider them as interwoven parts of a whole. Instead of reflecting on failure or victory, one should see life in moderation, observing its entirety.
· Youth and age
o Plato/children- ancient/young contrast
o Sixty-year-old/there is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow- Yeats’ specific reference to his age suggests he feels out of touch/estranged from the youth he is observing. Scarecrow reference suggests he feels old. Link to sailing to Byzantium
o Sixty or more winters on its head- negative way of expressing age- focus on winters rather than summers. ‘on its head’ suggests blows/beating a general burden/wearing of life.
o Her present image floats into the mind – he now imagines her as an adult. Whereas before her beauty is indicated through the reference to her ledean body, now what is apparent is the Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind – suggests an emptiness, gaunt. The brevity of the wind also indicates the brevity of life
o I though never of ledean kind / Had pretty plumage once – enough of that, / Better to smile on all that smile, and show / There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow – decides not to think or look back with regret on his youth or curse his age. An unconvincing…