Analysis of Easter 1916 and Wild Swans at Coole

Topics: Easter Rising, John MacBride, William Butler Yeats Pages: 2 (623 words) Published: July 22, 2013
If Yeats’ “Easter 1916” was valued and defined by only its political context it would speak powerfully to Irish Republicans and, perhaps, advocates of liberal democracy, but its context would stifle an awareness of transience and permanence Yeats commits in the heart of his poetry. Yeats reveals his consciousness to the idea of permanence through the eulogy of remembrance at the end of Easter 1916, where the vernacular is elevated to immortality in time and history. In striking difference is the repetition of “all changed, changed utterly”, by which Yeats speaks upon his awareness of transience through change and transformation, further reinforced by the visual juxtaposition of the benign interactions of everyday life in contrast to hardened political fanaticism. The echoing of “minute by minute” depicts the containing flow of time and further defines the idea of transience. Through a soft commemoration, Yeats renders permanence by providing the participants of the Easter Uprising a static place in history, and in contrast Yeats portrays mutability through change and transformation. Similarly in “Wild Swans at Coole”, Yeats paints a melancholic landscape of unchanging beauty. The personal context of the poetry, converse to “Easter 1916”, aids in emphasising Yeats’ consciousness of the ideas of impermanence and timelessness. Yeats starkly contrasts his own “heart which is sore” swan’s hearts which “have not grown old”, stressing a tension between youth and age. Yeats portrays his own transient mortality in relation to his age, juxtaposed to the swans’ youth, a symbol of immutability. Parallel to “Easter 1916”, constant references to the time in repetition of “autumn” and “twilight” creates a metaphorical passage of time and its continuum. Along with the allusion of nearing the end of one’s life, as both autumn and twilight represent a time of closing, Yeats further defines transience as the inevitability of the end. Just as in “Easter 1916”, Yeats brings opposites...
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