Yeats: the Second Coming & the Wild Swans at Coole

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Yeats himself said "Poetry is no rootless flower, but the speech of man" and this concept is reflected deeply in his poetic works as he expresses concerns and ideas of close regard to himself and makes them memorable to the reader through his linguistic craftsmanship and mastery of poetic techniques. The Wild Swans At Coole (hereafter WS) examines the theme of intimate change and personal yearning, whilst The Second Coming (hereafter SC) examines change in context with cultural dissolution and fear. It is because Yeats' poetry is so deeply grounded in his own human feelings and is such an artful expression of those emotions that the ideas he presents in these poems resonate with the reader long after the piece has been read.

WS is Yeats' melancholy lament for the progression of time and the transitory nature of the human life which draws upon our own feelings of mutability to resonate beyond the page. Yeats introduces time to the poem with the reference to autumn, creating tactility in the physical image but more importantly an effected ambience. Yeats employs autumn as an objective correlative, divulging his feelings of progression towards poetical and physical sterility as he entered the "twilight" years of his life, a change which he resolutely resents. This progression is contrasted starkly against the temporal wild swans whose "hearts have not grown old", in fact Yeats views the swans, "wheeling in great broken rings," as transcendent of time, breaking free of the gyres applicable only to the temporal earth and human kind. His fascination with their changeless state is evident as he positions the swans both in water, the mundane world and then includes their transcendence into the air, the eternal and spiritual, an attribute that he is most envious of, to the point that “it makes his heart sore.” The poem leaves us in admiration of these eternal creatures that transcend change and allows us to reflect, as Yeats did, upon our own struggle with the...
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