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The Circus Animals' Desertion. Group member. Bella 590202605 Callum 591202547 Allison 591202523 Anne 591202274. Outline. 1. why Yeats wrote “The Circus Animals’ Desertion” 2. The Circus Animals' Desertion 3. The Countess Cathleen in Paradise

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The Circus Animals' Desertion

Group member

Bella 590202605

Callum 591202547

Allison 591202523

Anne 591202274



  • 1. why Yeats wrote “The Circus Animals’
  • Desertion”
  • 2. The Circus Animals' Desertion
  • 3. The Countess Cathleen in Paradise
  • Three Stages of Yeats' poetic career



Why Yeats wrote this poem?

- The poem was completed in the last stage of Yeats.

  • With old age, Yeats had a feeling of uncertainty in his creative mind.
  • Yeats wrote this poem out of some frustration and self-loathing.
  • He felt that his creative ability was less active than that in his early and middle periods.

The Circus Animals' Desertion


I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,I sought it daily for six weeks or so.Maybe at last, being but a broken man,I must be satisfied with my heart, althoughWinter and summer till old age beganMy circus animals were all on show,Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.

the analysis of stanza
The analysis of stanza Ⅰ
  • line 1 and line 2→Yeats’ inability to create
  • line 3 and line 4→

★ “broken” represents old, aged, and perhaps also a man who is psychologically broken

★ “being but a broken man” shows alliteration.

line 5 and line 6→ he understands that his intellect serves him well throughout his career
  • The final two lines→contain a clear criticism on his previous creations
  • the imagery of the circus

(“stilted boys”, “that burnished chariot”, and “Lion and women”)


What can I but enumerate old themes,First that sea-rider Oisin led by the noseThrough three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;But what cared I that set him on to ride,I, starved for the bosom of his faery bride.


Oisin : a character of Celtic mythology who is a poet. These lines describe the poet with the beautiful enchantress, Niamh, and she carries him to three enchanted islands.

“The Wanderings of Oisin” is Yeats’ early work


And then a counter-truth filled out its play,'The Countess Cathleen' was the name I gave it;She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away,But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.I thought my dear must her own soul destroySo did fanaticism and hate enslave it,And this brought forth a dream and soon enoughThis dream itself had all my thought and love.

“The Countess Cathleen” saved the Irish by giving

her soul to Devil , then Heaven had intervened to save it.

This is also Yeats’ early work.

“my dear” is Maud Gonne and Yeats is infatuated with her.


And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the breadCuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;Heart-mysteries there, and yet when all is saidIt was the dream itself enchanted me:Character isolated by a deedTo engross the present and dominate memory.Players and painted stage took all my love,And not those things that they were emblems of.

Cuchulain : a character of Celtic mythology who is a fighter . Becoming a symbolic figure for the Irish cultural revival in the late 19th century.


line 25 and line 26 → makes allusion to the Fool and the Blind Man and the Celtic hero Cuchulain

  • line 28 →how poetry and fantasy enchanted him
  • line 30 and line 31 → fantastical figures symbolized as circus animals took all his love and dominate memory of his great mind
  • line 32 → unintended to the goal of Zen Buddhism to desymbolize the world


Those masterful images because completeGrew in pure mind, but out of what began?A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,Oldkettles, oldbottles, and a broken can,Oldiron, oldbones, oldrags, that raving slutWho keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone,I must lie down where all the ladders startIn the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.


line 35 to line 38 → express the disgust with which Yeats views his inability to create and his ladder to the elevated world of artistic creation is gone

  • line 39 and 40 →decides tocontinue in poetry
  • line 4 and 40 →closes the circle of the poem by returning to his aforementioned resolution to use his heart

The Countess Cathleen in Paradise


All the heavy days are over;Leave the body's coloured prideUnderneath the grass and clover,With the feet laid side by side.


Bathed in flaming founts of dutyShe'll not ask a haughty dress;Carry all that mournful beautyTo the scented oaken press.


Did the kiss of Mother MaryPut that music in her face?Yet she goes with footstep wary,Full of earth's old timid grace.


'Mong the feet of angels sevenWhat a dancer glimmering!All the heavens bow down to Heaven,Flame to flame and wing to wing.


Three Stages in Yeats' Poetic Career :

1. An early romantic stage

2. The Second stage

3. The Last stage

the brief introduction about rupert brooke 1887 1915
The brief introduction about Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)

"A young Apollo, golden-haired,Stands dreaming on the verge of strife,Magnificently unpreparedFor the long littleness of life."

Rupert Brooke was born on August 3, 1887, the second son of a public schoolmaster. He was educated at Rugby, his father's school, and in 1906 entered Cambridge, where he soon became prominent in both literary and social spheres. He still was a scholar, poet, dramatist, literary critic, travel writer, political activist, and soldier. Besides, Yeats proclaimed “the handsomest young man in England,” Rupert Brooke had not aged well.
Much attention has been paid to Brooke's biographical details, particularly his turbulent relationship with his mother, Mary Brooke, and his abortive love affairs with Noel Olivier and Ka Cox. He is still the best-known of the Georgian poets, yet detailed critical analysis of his work is surprisingly scarce. A young man of good looks and comfortable circumstances, his “1914 Sonnets” greeted the Great War in a patriotic and occasional manner, and consequently a conception of Brooke as a glamour-boy with little awareness of the realities of life or war has persisted.
In 1913 Brooke undertook an extensive period of travel and this led to further literary achievement. His journeying through America and Canada led to vivid and colourfully written travel pieces being published in The Westminster Gazette.

Brooke returned to England in 1914 and joined the Royal Naval Division at the beginning of the First World War. In that same year the 1914 Sonnets were published in New Numbers.

The 1914 sonnets, “war sonnets”, that were “The Treasure”, “Peace (I)”, “Safety (II)”, “The Dead (III)”, “The Dead (IV)”, and “The Soldier(V)”.

Brooke wrote these poems in the autumn following the outbreak of the First World War; and the poems made him famous. Five months later, died of dysentery and blood poisoning; he died at the age 27 during the First World War. He was buried on the Greek island of Skyros. “The Treasure” was the first poem Brooke wrote after August 1914, and it acted as a preface to the five war sonnets.

“The Soldier” was the most famous of these five poems; however, Brooke’s favorite was “The Dead (IV)”. The fame and popularity of “The Soldier” was established three weeks before Brooke’s death in April 1915, when the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral read it at the Easter Sunday service to secure Brooke’s immortality.

"There is a grave in Scyros, amid the white and pinkish marble of the isle, the wild thyme and the poppies, near the green and blue waters. There Rupert Brooke was buried.

Getting to Skyros (Skyros lies in the Northern Aegean)

Getting to the Grave

This is the memorial plaque to Rupert Brooke in Rugby School Chapel. The text of the poem beneath the bas-relief sculpture is "The Soldier," the fifth of his 1914 war sonnets.


The Soldier


If I should die, think only this of me:   That there's some corner of a foreign fieldThat is for ever England. There shall be   In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,   Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,A body of England's, breathing English air,   Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.


And think, this heart, all evil shed away,   A pulse in the eternal mind, no less      Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;   And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,      In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

an analysis of the soldier
An analysis of “The Soldier”

*“1914, A Sonnet Sequence,” in New Numbers, Rupert Brooke published a sequence of six sonnets titled “1914.”

* “The Soldier” was originally titled “The Recruit.”

* “The Soldier,” one of Brooke's war sonnets , was written in the first flush of patriotism and enthusiasm as a generation unused to war rushed to defend king and country.

rhyme scheme of the soldier
rhymescheme of “The Soldier”:

If I should die, think only this of me: a   That there's some corner of a foreign field b

That is for ever England. There shall be a   In that rich earth a richer dust concealed; bA dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware, c   Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam, dA body of England's, breathing English air, c   Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home. d

And think, this heart, all evil shed away, e   A pulse in the eternal mind, no less f      Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given; gHer sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day; e   And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness, f      In hearts at peace, under an English heaven. g

* line 1 to line 4→ the speaker thinks that as soon as I was on the Western Front, I had the preparation of sacrificing my life for my country, my fatherland.

* line 3 to line 4→ although I was dead in foreign country, my soul would return to my mother country, England.

* line 5 to line 10→

★ Brooke invokes the ideas of spiritual cleansing

★ the process of going to heaven

* line 11 to line 14→it means that the speaker had gone into heaven. Although they were dead in the war; for England, they still felt glorious and noble.


Edward Thomas


source tutorials/intro/map.html


The Owl

Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved,

Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof

Against the north wind; tired, yet so that rest

Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.

Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,

Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.

All of the night was quite barred out except

An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry.


Shaken out long and clear upon the hill

No merry note, nor cause of merriment,

But one telling me plain what I escaped

And others could not, that night, as in I went.

And salted was my food, and my repose,

Salted and sobered too, by the bird's voice

Speaking for all who lay under the stars,

Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.


Symbol of Owl:

  • unknown, a death was imminent
  • or some evil was at hand
  • 2. wisdom

Siegfried Sassoon

September 8, 1886 – September 1, 1967

Siegfried Sassoon was an English poet and author who came from a rich Jewish family in 1886.

He fought at Mametz Wood and such showed his courage that made him to acquire the Military Cross.

His near-suicidal exploits against the German lines that made him to earn the nickname “Mad Jack.”


Siegfried Sassoonbecame known as a writer of satirical anti-war poetry but later won acclaim for his prose work. In1957 he was received into the Roman Catholic church, and until he died in 1967 he wrote mainly devotional poems.



The Bishop tells us: ”When the boys come back'They will not be the same; for they'll have fought'In a just cause: they lead the last attackOn Anti-Christ; their comrades' blood has boughtNew right to breed an honourable race,'They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.”


“We're none of us the same!” the boys reply.“For George lost both his legs; and Bill's stone blind;Poor Jim's shot through the lungs and like to die;And Bert's gone syphilitic: you'll not findA chap who's served that hasn't found some change.”And the Bishop said: “The ways of God are strange!”

an analysis of they

An Analysis of “They”

“They” is a poem by the English soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon disparaging the attitude of the established church to the Great War.

line 1 & 2 → “When the boys come…be the same” : the woes of four Tommy Atkins to lead the last attack on Anti-Christ and the war lead to injury. So when they came back from the war , they Will not be the same.

The first stanza reveals Bishop’s speech about the noble sacrifice of the soldiers, and praised their spirit and faced death daringly.


The second stanza contains the soldiers’ reply. It shows the woes of four Tommy Atkins --George, Bill, Jim and Bert.

line 11 → “that hasn’t found some change” in fact shows they had changed and had been hurt from the war.

line 12 → “the ways of God are strange!” : although they got seriously hurt from the war, they still live daringly . That is a miracle. Another meaning expresses that although they lost something from the war, maybe that is God to give human a special mission to achieve great assignment. So although they were hurt and lost a lot, they are honorable and great heroes of the war.


‘Good-morning; good-morning!’ the General saidWhen we met him last week on our way to the line.

Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,

And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.

‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack

As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

.    .    . 

But he did for them both by his plan of attack.

The General

an analysis of the general

An Analysis of “The General”

Siegfried Sassoon wrote deeply moving verse about the horrors of World War I (1914-1918).

line 2 → “him” — The General

line 3 → “’em dead” — them dead : the casualties of 84000 troops,

inflicted casualties of 75000 on the Germans.

line 4 → describes the general whose staff are incompetent, so

their warfare tactics led to a lot of casualties.

line 6 → “Arras” -- a city in northern France, in the front line

throughout much of the war.


line 7 → “...” -- something repressed in inner mind and cannot be described in language. That is a turning point.

line 8 → “did for” -- cared for. Although other soldiers think staff of the general incompetent, the general still cared for these soldiers who died of war at that time.


Wilfred Owen (1893 - 1918)

--He was born 18 March 1893 in Oswestry, Shropshire, and died at the age of 25.

-- He is a poet of WWI


Dulce Et Decorum Est


The tone of the poem is desperate, shocked and angry.


* Owen wanted people who were not in the trenches –the people at home in England – to see the reality and misery of war.

* He also wanted them to stop telling future generations the “old lie” Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”).


Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,And towards our distant rest began to trudge.Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hootsOf gas-shells dropping softly behind.


- Owen sought to describe accurately what the conditions were like for soldiers at the Front.

Ex. “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge”

- Describe of war-weary soldiers marching.

Line 2 ”through sludge”

Line 6”blood-shod”

Line 7”Drunk with fatigue”

-Describe the condition of the men.

“Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;”


Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumblingFitting the clumsy helmets just in time,But someone still was yelling out and stumblingAnd floundering like a man in fire or lime. Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.


-change the pace of this stanza ”Gas!”

--making it more urgent as the soldiers come under attack and try to put on their gas masks before they choke.

-As under a “green sea”, I saw him “drowning”.

--“green sea” means: the gas.

--“drowning.” means: the man died of the gas.


In all my dreams before my helpless sightHe plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

-”before my helpless sight ”and “plunges at me”

---it means that Owen will not forget this bad memory.

- “guttering, choking, drowning.”

---The image of the man dying permeates his thoughts and dreams, forcing him to live this grotesque nightmare over and over again.


If in some smothering dreams, you too could paceBehind the wagon that we flung him in,And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,If you could hear, at every jolt, the bloodCome gargling from the froth-corrupted lungsBitter as the cudOf vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -My friend, you would not tell with such high zestTo children ardent for some desperate glory,The old Lie: Dulce et decorum estPro patria mori.


-”writhing” (line 19)

--It imply an virulent kind of pain.

-”like a devil's sick of sin” (line 20)

--It is description of the dying man’s face

-"eyes writhing", (line 17) he "face hanging", (line 18)

the "vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues"

(line 24)

---Owen wants the reader read these part of the poem, and it can let they would cease to send young men to war while instilling visions of glory in their heads.


-”My friend” (line 25)

-- identified as Jessie Pope who patriotic poems epitomized

the glorification of war.

--it is ironic and Owen despise.

-”The old Lie: Dulce et decorum estPro patria mori.”

-- the meaning is that it is sweet and right to die fro your





--Owen is trying to convey the real tragedy of war.

-- memories V.S. true feelings

--illustrates how his lifestyle changed dramatically

"they touch him like a queer disease“ (line 13)

“the women’s eyes pass from him to the strong men that

were whole.” (line 43)



He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the parkVoices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,Voices of play and pleasure after day,Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.


About this time Town used to swing so gayWhen glow-lamps budded in the light-blue treesAnd girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,- In the old times, before he threw away his knees.Now he will never feel again how slimGirls' waists are, or how warm their subtle hands,All of them touch him like some queer disease.


There was an artist silly for his face,For it was younger than his youth, last year.Now he is old; his back will never brace;He's lost his colour very far from here,Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race,And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.


One time he liked a bloodsmear down his leg,After the matches carried shoulder-high.It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,He thought he'd better join. He wonders why...Someone had said he'd look a god in kilts.

That's why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts,He asked to join. He didn't have to beg;Smiling they wrote his lie; aged nineteen years.Germans he scarcely thought of; and no fearsOf Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hiltsFor daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.


Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.Only a solemn man who brought him fruitsThanked him; and then inquired about his soul.

Now, he will spend a few sick years in Institutes,And do what things the rules consider wise,And take whatever pity they may dole.To-night he noticed how the women's eyesPassed from him to the strong men that were whole.How cold and late it is! Why don't they comeAnd put him into bed? Why don't they come?


An analysis of Disabled

*‘He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark' (L.1)

---'dark', 'grey' , and 'shivered' sets up the isolation of the wounded soldier.

*'before he threw away his knees' (L.10)

---The implication that this was a needless loss is reinforced by L23,24 where the wounded soldier fails to remember why he joined up, pointing only to a distant sense of duty, and euphoria after the football match.

*'Now he will never feel again how slim/Girls' waists are' (L.11 & L.12)--- physical and psychological

*'younger than his youth' (L.15)

-- it is that his face is now older than his youth.

*'spurted from his thigh' (L.20)


'*a bloodsmear down his leg,/After the matches, carried shoulder-high' (L.21 & L.22)*'a god in kilts' (L.25)

---this is also implies that the soldier joined up for reasons of vanity.

*'Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years' (L.29)

---The sadness of the soldier's plight is heightened. Clearly he was under-aged when he enlisted and therefore is still young.



*'Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes/Passed from him to the strong men that were whole' (L.43 & L.44)

---'Whole' implying that he is incomplete, less than a man. 'Ironically he is now dependent on young women to put him to bed, in contrast with his prewar virile manhood when he could expect to take women to bed'

*the symbol of young man

--- after a war, he not only losses his arm and feet, but also losses his dream.

Ex: 'He's lost his colour very far from here' (L.17)


Works Cited

  • Irish Literary Studies. 20 Oct. 2005 <>.
  • “W. B. Yeats .” The Leaving Cert English Page. 20 Oct.

2005 <>.

  • William Butler Yeats' "The Circus Animals' Desertion." 20 Oct 2005


  • “William Butler Yeats.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
  • Ed. M.H. Abrams, et al. 7th ed. Vol. 2. NY: Norton, 2000. 2085-
  • 2131.
  • Yeats’ Poetry. 20 Oct 2005