Among School Children Essay 1

Topics: William Butler Yeats, Life, Maud Gonne Pages: 2 (854 words) Published: February 6, 2008
Being among school children, Yeats confronts human frailty, reflecting on the impact and worth of his life. Frightened by the inevitability of death, Yeats initially chooses to wear a mask of acceptance and reconciliation, while internally, he agonizes over the most basic of questions—the value of life itself. By comparing Maude Gonne's current appearance to her appearance in youth, Yeats realizes time's toll on the physical being. After finally understanding the mortal implications of humanity, Yeats searches for any possible way to subvert his certain death. As Yeats discovers from his assessment of the great ancient thinkers, there is no way to separate "the dancer from the dance." He learns that one cannot divide life into "the leaf, the blossom, or the bole," analyzing each individual part. Instead, one must view life with a "brightening glance," seeing the beauty in its entirety. Through this intense examination, Yeats comes to terms with himself, realizing the necessity of a peaceful, self-honest existence. Amongst youth itself, Yeats can see his age clearly, able to perceive himself as the "sixty-year-old smiling public man" that he is. From this moment, Yeats realizes the fleeting nature of life and begins to question his legacy and accomplishments. He wants to know if his education was similar to the children, who learn in the "best modern way." Understanding what knowledge is helpful in life, he walks "through the long schoolroom questioning" whether the lessons they are being taught are really relevant to life. They learn "to cipher and to sing, to study reading-books and history," but Yeats realizes that life's true lessons do not come from the classroom. Envisioning what these innocent children will someday have to realize, Yeats imagines the rape of Leda by Zeus, turning a "childish day to tragedy." Leda's body "bent/ Above a sinking fire" is symbolic of her diminishing youthful spirit; Leda loses the gayness and purity of her youth through one...
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