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W.B. Yeats. 5A: English. M1: The Great Gatsby M5: The Great Gatsby T3:Poetry T8: Poetry W8: The Great Gatsby F1: Composition/ Essay Writing **** All class topics are subject to change **** All classes will be held in Room 6. Miss Smith: 5A English. Rules

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5a english

5A: English

M1: The Great Gatsby

M5: The Great Gatsby


T8: Poetry

W8: The Great Gatsby

F1: Composition/ Essay Writing

**** All class topics are subject to change

**** All classes will be held in Room 6

classroom rules


Jackets Off, Books and Materials Out

Listen to directions

Be respectful of your teacher and fellow students

Raise your hand to speak



Discipline Sheet/ Asked to stand

Note in Journal (to be signed)

Phonecall Home


Discipline sheet/Referred to Year Head

Classroom Rules


ALWAYS be prepared for class. Have all books, materials and homework out and ready for inspection.





Born 13th June’ 1865 in Sandymount Dublin

  • John Butler Years, his father, was a famous artist and his mother, Susan, came from a well-to-do family in Sligo
  • At nine, his family moved to London, only to return to Ireland in 1880 to settle in Howth.
  • Yeats later studied at the College of Art in Dublin but soon came to realise his interests lay with literature.
  • Yeats was encouraged, by his father, to write poetry from a young age. Earlier on his career he began to explore mysticism and the occult in particular Indian mysticism. This interest remained throughout his life
  • Yeats was very active in the Irish Literary Renaissance which saw a revival of interest in Ireland’s literary heritage and was inspired by political and cultural nationalism
yeats and women

Yeats met Maud Gonne in 1888, an Irish nationalist who considerably influenced both his personal and his literary works. He proposed marriage to her several times.

  • In 1896 he met Lady Augusta Gregory, mistress of Coole Park estate in Co. Galway. It is here he composed many of his best poems including The Wild Swans of Coole.
  • He continued to pursue Maud Gonne and after being rejected again, he proposed to her daughter Iseult. She was 22 and Yeats was 51. She also declined.
  • Eventually, in 1917, he proposed to Georgie Hyde Lees who accepted. He was 52 and she was 25. They had two children, Anne (1919) and Michael (1921).
Yeats and Women
yeats and politics

Following Ireland becoming a free state in 1922, Yeat’s took an interest in politics. He became a member of the Irish senate and backed unpopular causes i.e. divorce

  • In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Much of his later life was spent abroad for health reasons.
Yeats and Politics
what makes yeats different

There is a constant renewal, experimentation and utter dedication to his craft- poetry.

  • Unlike other poets, such as Wordsworth who produced much of his famous work before the age of 40, Yeats produced his between ages 55 and 74. There is no record, in English literary history, of another poet who has done this.
  • His craft, in a constant renewal state, lead to the ultimate command of words and images characteristic of his mature work.
What makes Yeats different?
social cultural context

Phase 1: Irish Literary Heritage: this phase was based on Yeat’s interest in Irish history and Folklore. He was active in promoting the idea of distinctly Irish literature.

    • Lake Isle of Innisfree
  • Phase 2: Revolutionary Irish: A remarkable change in both Yeat’s life and his poetry. He gradually stopped being a Romantic poet, his work becomes less decorative and musical and more harsh, realistic and above all in tune with current issues.
    • September 1913
    • Easter 1916
    • An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
  • Phase 3: Complex Personal Mythology: This collection features a comprehensive mythology of persons in which contemporaries who impressed Yeats appear larger than life. Yeats also draws from a great deposit of history, philosophy and universal symbolism (a swan).
    • Wild Swans at Coole
Social & Cultural Context
the lake isle of innisfree

Pleasant, fluent, not demanding, rich in texture.

  • I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
  • And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings.
  • I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart's core

Deep human impulse, escape from sordid realities of city life to a Pastoral Utopia

Attractions of the ideal Inisfree are heightened by the contrasting drabness of London’s “pavements grey”

Simple Imagery= Quiet Life


This is part of his Irish Literary heritage stage: Romantic phase of his early career Quest for beauty and nature in life

lake isle of inisfree

The poet declares that he will arise and go to Innisfree, where he will build a small cabin “of clay and wattles made.” There, he will have nine bean-rows and a beehive, and live alone in the glade loud with the sound of bees (“the bee-loud glade”). He says that he will have peace there, for peace drops from “the veils of morning to where the cricket sings.” Midnight there is a glimmer, and noon is a purple glow, and evening is full of linnet’s wings.

  • He declares again that he will arise and go, for always, night and day, he hears the lake water lapping “with low sounds by the shore.” While he stands in the city, “on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,” he hears the sound within himself, “in the deep heart’s core.”
Lake Isle of Inisfree
lake isle of inisfree1

Form: This poem is composed by three stanzas, each of the three stanzas has the same ABAB rhyme scheme. The three first verses of each stanza are written in hexameter, with six stresses in each line; the last line of each stanzas shortens the line to tetrameter, with only four stresses. “And live alone in the bee-loud glade.” Each of the three stanzas has the same ABAB rhyme scheme.

  • “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” published in Yeats’s second book of poems, 1893’s The Rose, is one of his first great poems, and one of his most enduring. The tranquil, hypnotic hexameters recreate the rhythmic pulse of the tide.
  • The simple imagery of the quiet life the speaker longs to lead, as he enumerates each of its qualities, lulls the reader into his idyllic fantasy, until the penultimate line jolts the speaker—and the reader—back into the reality of his drab urban existence: “While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey.”
  • The final line—“I hear it in the deep heart’s core”—is a crucial statement for Yeats, not only in this poem but also in his career as a whole. The implication that the truths of the “deep heart’s core” are essential to life is one that would preoccupy Yeats for the rest of his career as a poet; the struggle to remain true to the deep heart’s core may be thought of as Yeats’s primary undertaking as a poet.
Lake Isle of Inisfree

Hexameter: A line of verse consisting of six metrical feet/stresses.

the wild swans at coole

Complex personal mythology stage

The lake and its occupants = life and growth. The land – where Yeats stands= is barren.

Repetition of 'm', 's'

and 'l' -sense of peace and quiet

The trees are in their autumn beauty,

The woodland paths aredry,

Under the October twilight the water

Mirrors a still sky;

Upon the brimming water among the stones

Are nine and fifty swans.

The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me

Since I first made my count;

I saw, before I had well finished,

All suddenly mount

And scatter wheeling in great broken rings

Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,

And now my heart is sore.

All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,

The first time on this shore,

The bell-beat of their wings above my head,

Trod with a lighter tread.

There are ‘nine-and-fifty’ - Swans mate for life, so why is there an odd number?

Run-on lines= movement and swans' flight. ‘Clamorous’ onomatopoeia= clapping and beating of the swans' wings

a symbol of eternity –reminds Yeats that while he might change, the

swans remain the same, and even make the same patterns in the sky every year.

The Wild Swans at Coole

Alliteration; Steady beat of the birds wings

the wild swans at coole1

They are united, and time does not seem to touch them. ‘Their

hearts have not grown old’.


Unwearied still, lover by lover,

They paddle in the cold,

Companionable streams or climb the air;

Their hearts have not grown old;

Passion or conquest, wander where they will,

Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water

Mysterious, beautiful;

Among what rushes will they build,

By what lake’s edge or pool

Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day

To find they have flown away?

  • He implies that he is old and tired and
  • heartbroken.

The swans can swim in the ‘brimming’ water and fly in the air, but Yeats is

limited to the dry woodland paths.

Yeats may be thinking of his creative

life or his love life, or both, when he reflects on the changes that time has wrought. The

swans are unchanging, content, almost immortal. He is none of these things.

The Wild Swans at Coole

Yeats wrote this poem in 1916, when he was fifty one years of age. Coole Park, in Co. Galway was the home of Lady Augusta Gregory, Yeats' friend and patron.

  • In 1916, Yeats' love, Maud Gonne was widowed. Her husband, Major John McBride, had been executed by the British for his part in the Easter Rising. Maud Gonne went to France to work as a nurse with the war wounded, and Yeats followed her to propose marriage once again. Once again she refused. In 1917 Yeats married Georgiana Hyde-Lees and moved into ThoorBallylee, a tower-house near Coole Park.
interpreting the poem

Written as part of his third phase of writing- the complex personal mythology stage. The poem was composed when Yeat’s was 52. He was concerned about the exhaustive effect of age on his imaginative powers.

  • To some critics, the swans will always be symbols of beauty, love, youth, and vitality. The poet finally comes to terms with the swans freedom and his own aging.
  • Other critics believe the poem ends on a note of pessimism. The poet is expressing the fear he has when the swans desert him symbolising the speaker’s creative relationship with nature, leaving him bereft of inspiration and creativity.
Interpreting the Poem
an irish airman foresees his death

The subject of this poem is Robert Gregory, son of Lady Gregory, Yeats’ patron. Gregory volunteered to fight in the First World War as a fighter pilot in the British Air Force.

  • Gregory was a close friend of Yeats who worked with him as a stage designer at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
  • In January 1918, he was shot down as he returned to base in northern Italy.
An Irish Airman Foresees his Death
an irish airman foresees his death1

The speaker is Major Robert Gregory. He is presented as the perfect man of Yeats’ imagination. Gregory is a perfectly well balanced man.

I know that I shall meet my fate

Somewhere among the clouds above;

Those that I fight I do not hate

Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is KiltartanCross,

My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,

No likely end could bring them loss

Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,

Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,

The years to come seemed waste of breath,

A waste of breath the years behind

In balance with this life, this death.

He balances the future prospects of his poor countrymen against the outcome of the war- they will neither lose nor gain.

  • He wasn’t compelled by law in a draft. He didn’t go out of a sense of duty to his country. Politicians didn’t influence him. He had no desire to be a hero.

Gregory becomes the kind of man Yeats most admired: one who can combine passion and detachment, joy and loneliness

An Irish Airman foresees his Death
an irish airman foresees his death2

Rhyme The poem follows a clear rhyming pattern: ababcdcdefefghgh

  • Language The language is direct and conversational. But the sound effects contain lots of repetitions that create a musical effect.
  • Comparison The speaker compares life to death.
  • Contrast[difference] The speaker contrasts himself to the typical fighter
  • Mood The words ‘fate’ and ‘death’ give the poem a sad and serious mood overall. There is also a mood of excitement as the speaker looks forward to the buzz of fighting in the clouds.
  • Paradox [apparent contradiction] The most vivid moment of the speaker’s life contains his death
  • Tone The speaker is in an unemotional state and speaks in a cold uncaring voice about his own life and death throughout the poem. His voice becomes warm when he is speaking of his neighbours in Kiltartan. When he speaks of the reasons men go to war, his tone is cold again. When the speaker refers to the past and future as a ‘waste of breath’ his tone becomes hateful or contemptuous
An Irish Airman Foresees his Death
september 1913

“A little greasy huxtering groping for halfpence in a greasy till”.

  • The poem celebrates past patriotic glory whilst offering a dispiriting vision of an Ireland lacking in spiritual values.
  • It was inspired by a bitter controversy over the issue of building an art gallery in Dublin. Hugh Lane, Lady Gregory’s nephew wished to present his important collection of French impressionist paintings to Dublin provided they built a gallery to house them.
  • Much to Yeats’ outrage, there was a poor response from Dublin corporation and so responded with this condemnatory poem. It was published in The Irish Times on the 8th September 1913 under the title “Romance in Ireland”.
September 1913
september 19131

“you”- mockingly and ironically addresses the nationalist merchant class characterized by the qualities of religious devotion and attachment to money.

  • What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone;
For men were born to pray and save;
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

  • Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
For whom the hangman's rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

O’Leary – a nobler vision of Ireland; had a vital influence on Irish cultural nationalism. Belongs to a vanished age.

“They” contrast with the above “you”. “They are the patriots of the heroic past.

September 1913

Contrast sharply with the preoccupations of the “you” referred to in stanza 1.

september 19132

“this” refers to contemporary Ireland with all its imperfections. The “wild geese” refers to Irish soldiers served in armies in Europe.

  • Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

  • Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain,
You'd cry `Some woman's yellow hair
Has maddened every mother's son':
They weighed so lightly what they gave.
But let them be, they're dead and gone,
They're with O'Leary in the grave.

Fitzgerald, Emmetand Wolf, like Yeats were Anglo-Irish. Was there sacrifice worthwhile?

“delirium”- emotional and instinctive (gave lives for a dream). Unlike the rational calculating merchants.

Ironic tone persist- heroic dead return to confront unheroic living.

September 1913

Seal of mocking irony- merchant thinks past heroes are best forgotten since they are dead like O’Leary.

september 19133

Written during Yeats’ revolutionary period. The speaker is angry and is addressing people he dislikes.

  • The people are middle-class Irish who are focused on two things- praying and saving. Yeats believes they have no love for their country and have made Ireland a selfish, materialistic society.
  • Yeats, as he commonly does, contrast this to the unselfish patriotic heroes of the past- prepared to die for the freedom of their country.
  • The speaker recognizes these past idealist, would be regarded in modern times as foolish and best forgotten.
September 1913
easter 1916

The subject of this poem is the Easter Rising. On the 24th April 1916, a small group of Irish republicans occupied buildings in the centreof Dublin and their leaders proclaimed an Irish republic.

  • The rising collapsed within a week and its leaders were executed.
  • Their idealism, bravery and chivalry impressed even their enemies and became heroic champions of the cause for Irish freedom.
Easter 1916
easter 19161

Yeats was with Maud Gonne in France when he heard the news. He was at first shocked and believed that what the patriots had died for might be conceded peacefully by the British.

  • Maud Gonne, whose estranged husband died during the rising believe that a “tragic dignity has returned to Ireland”. The poem expressed a similar belief in its most memorable line “A terrible beauty is born”.
  • The rising moved Yeats like no other public event ever did.
  • A more optimistic poem , it may be read as a retraction of the more cynical view taken of Irish public life in September 1913.
  • Maud Gonne recalled that Yeats read the poem to her in France, he urged her to abandon her patriotic intensity, imploring her “to forget the stone and its inner fire for the flashing, changing joy of life”.
  • Like September 1913, the poem is based on contrast and antithesis (a balancing of opposing ideas.)
Easter 1916
easter 19162

The central antithesis (balancing of two opposing ideas) is between the speaker’s attitude to the people who were secretly planning the 1916 Rising and his attitude to the same people after they had displayed an unexpected heroism and become nationalist martyrs.

Easter 1916
easter 19163

Yeats refers to “them” as the people who were secretly planning a rising. Repetition of “meaningless words” suggests Yeats did not take what they said seriously. He admits he even thought of mocking them at his gentlemen's club. He believed these men, posing as revolutionaries, wearing multi-coloured dress as a clown or fool would wear (motley), had no real intention of carrying it out.

I have met them at close of day   

Coming with vivid faces

From counter or desk among grey   

Eighteenth-century houses.

I have passed with a nod of the head   

Or polite meaningless words,   

Or have lingered awhile and said   

Polite meaningless words,

And thought before I had done   

Of a mocking tale or a gibe   

To please a companion

Around the fire at the club,   

Being certain that they and I   

But lived where motley is worn:   

All changed, changed utterly:   

A terrible beauty is born.

“A terrible beauty is born”- not a single minded celebration of what has been done. This suggests beauty has been achieved at the expense of life.

Easter 1916
easter 19164

Yeats refers here to the revolutionary men and women he undervalued. The first mentioned is Countess Makiewicz, based on antithesis. Yeats contrasts her younger days as a lady of leisure with her later ones as a fanatical nationalist. He voice becoming shrill over time thus becoming a less attractive person from her earlier self.

That woman's days were spent   

In ignorant good-will,

Her nights in argument

Until her voice grew shrill.

What voice more sweet than hers   

When, young and beautiful,   

She rode to harriers?

This man had kept a school   

And rode our wingèd horse;   

This other his helper and friend   

Was coming into his force;

He might have won fame in the end,   

So sensitive his nature seemed,   

So daring and sweet his thought.

This other man I had dreamed

A drunken, vainglorious lout.

He had done most bitter wrong

To some who are near my heart,   

Yet I number him in the song;

He, too, has resigned his part

In the casual comedy;

He, too, has been changed in his turn,   

Transformed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.

Patrick Pearse and Thomas McDonagh- both teachers and poets. The speaker believes that McDonagh had a talented imagination that could have brought him fame.

The fourth figure mentioned- John Mc Bride, Maud Gonne’s husband is described as a drunken boastful lout who had wronged people whom Yeats loves.

Easter 1916

All four figures as seen as characters of drama, before 1916 they were acting out trivial parts in a play. No longer half hearted- they become noble, tragic participants, terrible and violent but beautiful in their self- sacrifice.

easter 19165

Notion of change now gives way to its opposite: the unchanging reality of patriotic devotion. The patriots mentioned have given themselves exclusively to the cause of Irish freedom. Its price: they become stone hearted and devoid of everyday human emotion- “enchanted” “stone”.

Hearts with one purpose alone   

Through summer and winter seem   

Enchanted to a stone

To trouble the living stream.

The horse that comes from the road,   

The rider, the birds that range   

From cloud to tumbling cloud,   

Minute by minute they change;   

A shadow of cloud on the stream   

Changes minute by minute;   

A horse-hoof slides on the brim,   

And a horse plashes within it;   

The long-legged moor-hens dive,   

And hens to moor-cocks call;   

Minute by minute they live:   

The stone's in the midst of all.

The stone is a dead thing in the midst of living things all around it.

Powerful image of the stone unmoving in the midst of the flowing stream. Pearse and his followers have turned their backs on life in their fanatical concentration on a single cause. Dominant contrast between the changing face of nature and the obsessive resistance to change that characterizes the patriots- “the stone in the midst of all”.

Easter 1916
easter 19166

“too long a sacrifice….heart”- heroic dreams of the patriots have deprived themselves of life.

Too long a sacrifice

Can make a stone of the heart.   

O when may it suffice?

That is Heaven's part, our part   

To murmur name upon name,   

As a mother names her child   

When sleep at last has come   

On limbs that had run wild.   

What is it but nightfall?

No, no, not night but death;   

Was it needless death after all?

For England may keep faith   

For all that is done and said.   

We know their dream; enough

To know they dreamed and are dead;   

And what if excess of love   

Bewildered them till they died?   

I write it out in a verse—

MacDonagh and MacBride   

And Connolly and Pearse

Now and in time to be,

Wherever green is worn,

Are changed, changed utterly:   

A terrible beauty is born.

Here Yeats asks the question- have these patriots wasted their lives for a cause that may have been granted in any case? Yeats believed that England would eventually give Ireland a measure of freedom.

Yeats’ speaker retains an impersonal attitude and refuses to pass judgment on the prudence or otherwise of what they rebels have done, preferring to leave this to the deeper wisdom of providence.

Easter 1916
easter 19167

In the first two stanzas the idea of change is dominant. The change is also one affecting the speaker- his perception of those who participated in the rising. Yeats must even revise his opinion of MacBride whose sacrifice of his life in the cause of the Republic is evidence of his commitment and genuine patriotism.

Easter 1916
sailing to byzantium

"Sailing to Byzantium" written when Yeats was 63 as part of his Complex Personal Mythology phase of his life but it is reminiscent of his earlier work The Lake Isle of Innisfreeas it depicts another version of a happy future.

  • Byzantium, later renamed Constantinople, famous centre for religion, art and architecture. Ancient Byzantium was Yeats’ ideal place away from the sadness of everyday life.
  • Yeats explores his thoughts and musings on how immortality, art, and the human spirit may unite.
  • Through the use of various poetic techniques, Yeats's "Sailing to Byzantium" describes the metaphorical journey of a man pursuing his own vision of eternal life as well as his conception of paradise.
Sailing to Byzantium
sailing to byzantium1

Imagery: full and abundant natural life. The ears of an old man may feel out of place in a world with such vitality and energy.

That is no country for old men. The youngIn one another's arms, birds in the trees- Those dying generations - at their song,The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer longWhatever is begotten, born, and dies.Caught in that sensual music all neglectMonuments of unageing intellect.An aged man is but a paltry thing,A tattered coat upon a stick, unlessSoul clap its hands and sing, and louder singFor every tatter in its mortal dress,Nor is there singing school but studyingMonuments of its own magnificence;And therefore I have sailed the seas and comeTo the holy city of Byzantium.

Creatures: Birds, Fish- doomed to death and decay. Real birds song contrast to final stanza with artificial bird of Byzantium.

If Yeats became a “monument” he would be timeless.

Images of the ageing body, old man as a scarecrow.

Believes the soul can rise above the mortal distressed- it must not listen to the “sensual music”. Break free from your mortal limitations and study the timeless “monuments”. Speaker undertakes inner voyage to Byzantium- where human limitations do not exist.

Sailing to Byzantium

“Sailing”- symbol of voyage. In this poem, a country of the mind situated in the ideal past

sailing to byzantium2

Sages who are also martyrs: believes sages will heal speakers sufferings and agonies. They will instruct him in their kind of perfection, he will absorb this and have an eternity of beauty. He wants them to take away from this word and make him immune from decay.

O sages standing in God's holy fireAs in the gold mosaic of a wall,Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,And be the singing-masters of my soul.Consume my heart away; sick with desireAnd fastened to a dying animalIt knows not what it is; and gather meInto the artifice of eternity.Once out of nature I shall never takeMy bodily form from any natural thing,But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths makeOf hammered gold and gold enamellingTo keep a drowsy Emperor awake;Or set upon a golden bough to singTo lords and ladies of ByzantiumOf what is past, or passing, or to come.

Speaker removes himself from mortal nature, takes on a different shape to ensure him eternity of freedom in Byzantium. The speakers becomes a golden bird- an ageless, incorruptible thing- antithesis of the “dying animal”

Sailing to Byzantium

Monuments of unageing intellect: symbols of the life of the spirit, of contemplation, of art.

sailing to byzantium3

Ottavarima traditionally contains the following rhyme scheme: ABABABCC. However, Yeats starts out with rhymes that seem to be following the traditional scheme, but then he introduces these strange, dissonant half-rhymes instead of full rhymes.

  • Divided into four eight-line stanzas, "Sailing to Byzantium" takes on a sort of formal regularity. Ottavarima was traditionally an Italian poetic form. It was usually used in epic poems – poems that traced the successes of a hero through battles, saving damsels in distress, and all other sorts of fun.
  • It uses a journey to Constantinople (Byzantium) as a metaphor for a spiritual journey.
  • Yeats found the idea of bodily decay and weakness intolerable. As a means of escape he creates an ideal place. One exempt from decay and death, he can spend an eternity as a work of art.
Sailing to Byzantium
contradictory emotions

The speaker must choose between two worlds:

    • A cruel world of birth, generation and death which he rejects. The concrete images of stanza 1 show a world where life is celebrated.
    • A timeless world of art in which he embraces. He longs to spend an eternity in a Byzantine palace of art taking the form of an imperishable artifact.
  • However, the imagery and rhythm of the poem suggests the speaker, despite his longing to escape from reality, finds that the alternative fails to compensate for the vigorous excitement of actual life. The sensual music of stanza one confirms this impression.
  • One could say the theme of this poem is that art is not a substitute for life. The speakers metamorphosis into a golden bird seems an elaborate triviality when compared to the natural scenes in stanza 1.
  • Worth noting there is a story of a mechanical bird who wins a singing contest but the live bird is the only one who can revive the emperor.
Contradictory Emotions
write a note under the above headings try and include evidence in at least two of yeats poems

Many of Yeats’ poems are taken up with arguments

  • Balances opposing ideas and leaves many questions open
  • Makes effective use of imagery to convey themes
  • Challenging poet in terms of style and subject matter
  • Creates tension or contrast between the real world in which he lives and an ideal world that he imagines
Write a note under the above headings. Try and include evidence in at least two of Yeats’ poems.