Notes by Fenella Chesterfield
Quite drastic change from later poems like “among School Children’ and ‘Easter 1916’, this is a more naive Yeats.
*Expresses Yeats’ frustration over how violence is not the way forward, however peaceful Ireland is ‘with O’Leary in the grave’ and all that is left is violence.
*Significant date, general strike where workers were shut out of factories as their employers did not want to acquiesce to better working conditions / wages
Union ITGWN (Yeats argued that this was completely against Irish Romanticism)
- Ballad, has a clear chorus
- popular form in Irish Culture
- one of Yeats’ most sarcastic poems, he chooses this form in order to mock
- Simple ABAB rhyme scheme, as sometimes simple structures and strong rhyme carry political messages better.
John O’Leary - died in 1907
- founder of Young Republic Brotherhood
- Yeats was highly influenced by him – he taught Yeats that revolution could be born of art.
- father / grandfather like figure to Yeats
- lambasting against the apathy of the business owners in Dublin
- a direct retaliation to the general strike
- he is disgusted by the business owners, as they are undermining the true Romantic Ireland.
But fumble in a greasy till
- corrupt / untrustworthy
- absolutely lambasting the greed of the owners
And add the halfpence to the pence / And prayer to shivering prayer
- money and religion are all they care about
- pence is such a small amount – emphasizes their greed
- forgotten to care about Ireland
You have dried the marrow from the bone
- absolute annihilation
For man were born to pray and save
- laced with irony
- ‘save’ = money or people?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone, / It’s with O’Leary in the grave.
- O’Leary was last bastion of man who had no sense of self-interest. He…