W.B. Yeats Poetry Analysis

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Pete Benck
Pd. 5
AP Lit
Among School Children

In "Among School Children", Yeats speaks to an upcoming generation that is too preoccupied with preparation. The philosophy of this work suggests that life prepares us for what never happens. Consistent with Yeats' message in other works, it follows the dogma: ignorance brings innocence, whereas knowledge brings chaos. With acquired wisdom, consciousness produces a chaotic state within the individual, causing conflict within the soul and mind. Yeats' main focus is ignorant bliss in this poetic reflection of archetypal adolescence. Consciousness is limited to the realms of experience. Within this experience we may understand individualities of love, death and camaraderie. Consciousness is the awareness of one's surroundings and identity; the awareness of universal concepts and the relation this plays upon the individual. Yeats believed that throughout an individual's life there were certain icons and memories which remained constant, turning in what he symbolized with a gyre or a downward spiral. This spiral denotes life veering towards a state of anarchy. Yeats uses this gyre not as an ominous message of death, but as a life experience to be handled by the individual. If one neglects this knowledge, one has not been enlightened and so remains much like the school children Yeats views in the poem. If one learns from the spiral, he is a knowledgeable man. It is apparent that among the school children there is an air of beauty which surrounds them. This beauty which Yeats views is derived from their innocence. It would seem that innocence is freedom to follow the divine will. Innocence becomes beauty and consciousness becomes mere confusion. Yeats is constantly using forms of innocence which may be considered the opposing factor to forms of consciousness. If consciousness is understanding in a universal sense, then innocence would be unable to interpret this wisdom. He displays the children, a...
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