Easter 1916 - Poem by William Butler Yeats
In Easter 1916, poet begins with a criticism of the politicians both living and those who are dead in the recent revolution. Yeats was deeply moved by the heroism and the martyrdom of the rebels. He saw the whole Irish scene transformed by the tragedy of execution. The heroes of the rebellion-Pearse, Connolly, McDonough and MacBride-all became symbol of heroic martyrdom. I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
In the first stanza, the poet speaks of the politicians whom he meets at close day in the parliament. The politicians are sitting in the counter without any work on their desk. The poet meets with people coming out of their homes or offices and greets them with a nod of his head and with words of mere formality without any significance. He also narrates to entertain his companions at the club some ridiculous tit-bit or make someone the target of his taunt. He is certain that all of them are living where life consist of a mixture of colors like the dress of a jester. But glorious and terrible change happens suddenly.
That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
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