Loss in the Wild Swans at Coole

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Discuss ways in which Yeats explores a sense of loss in The Wild Swans at Coole Loss is part of the persistent and perpetual cycle of life, evident in the world we graciously inhabit. It is for this reason that Yeats’ has used autumn as the setting for The Wild Swans at Coole; a season of decay and cessation. The natural imagery in use conveys a sense of stillness, dryness and emerging darkness, all of which are strongly indicative of death. By setting the scene this way, Yeats is not only introducing the theme of loss consistent throughout the poem, but in a sense providing the reader with an insight into his mind. His awareness of death is clear in his language, highlighting the desiccation of the woodland paths upon which he walks; the world around him serves as an ever-present reminder of his own mortality. Yeats is almost laughing at himself with the first stanza, which is reminiscent of his earlier works that sought understanding of the eternal; the inclusion of the poet’s voice in the second stanza results in an immediate contrast that signifies the change in Yeats as a person. The Yeats we are accompanied by is an older man, more accepting of the transient nature of life in his later years. He describes the autumn he witnesses as beautiful, and the natural world presented to us is melancholy, even in the face of its own demise. Could this be a reflection of his frame of mind, a state of peaceful resignation? His use of regular verse form serves to emphasise the calm atmosphere that his language has created, the repetition of full rhymes results in a gentle and regular flow, which is maintained by the shorter lines that pace the reader. This calm ambience makes it clear that The Wild Swans at Coole is not a searing revelation like The Cold Heaven but rather a meditation on time and change from the perspective of a man to who change is all too familiar. But such an interpretation begs the question, is it possible to become accustomed to change? In exploring...
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