The Man and the Echo


The Man and the Echo

·         Nostalgia/reflection

o   “Lie down and die.” “Into the night.”- The Echo takes his words out of context, changing their meaning and representing the lack of control one has over their words one they have been spoken. Yeats [The Man] argues against the echo emulating his frustration at the misinterpretation, manipulation and misuse of his works by others. The discord between Yeats and his echo shows the conflict of thoughts within himself as the echo is only an extension of himself, his words and ideas repeated back to him. Used as a device to look back at the impact of his words

o   Did that play of mine send out certain men the English shot?/ did words of mine put too great strain on that woman’s reeling brain?/ awake night after night- unanswerable questions, looks back on his works and there is an immense feeling of guilt. Use of harsh words ‘shot’ and ‘strain’. Refers to the executions after the easter rising. Was he the cause of these deaths through his play ‘Cathleen ni Hoolihan’ in which a woman personifying Ireland incites a bridegroom to rebellion and death. Also refers to Margo Collins who Yeats had an affair with and who suffered a mental breakdown and suicide after Yeats ended the relationship.

o   never get the answers right- He is haunted by a sense of unknowing about questions of life, philosophy and his own past

·         Life and death

o   Lie down and die- imperative command, suggests a lack of control, passivity

o   That were to shirk/ there is no release in bodkin or disease- refuses to obey the echo, negative view of death however- no release, never-ending torture

o   But body gone he sleeps no more, until his intellect grows sure/ stands in judgement of his soul- intellect describes the soul, all actions on earth must be purged. Immense sense of guilt and self judgement. Religious connotations of judgement of the soul

o   Thanks the Lord that he has his body and stupidity- Used mockingly, suggests it is stupid to believe in such a thing- we shouldn’t thank the lord for life but wait for the moment we can be released from it! Also links to youth and age – the bodily aging he bemoans in his other poems. We should not look to our body but to the intellect, the soul.

o   Sinks at last into the night- nothingness of death

·         Mythology

o   In a cleft that’s christened Alt / Under broken stone I halt – alludes to or parodies the journey to the Oracle of Delphi – a priestess at the temple of Apollo in Delphi

·         Idylls

o   Alt – a rocky fissure at Knocknarea Co.Sligo. West Ireland again, trying to return to his romantic notions?


General themes – some comments


·         Yeats incorporated distinctly Irish themes


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