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Easter 1916, Wild Swans at Coole and Second Coming

By ambsqon1 Jul 21, 2012 978 Words
Easter 1916, Wild Swans at Coole and Second Coming

The timeless essence and the ambivalence in Yeats’ poems urge the reader’s response to relevant themes in society today. This enduring power of Yeats’ poetry, influenced by the Mystic and pagan influences is embedded within the textual integrity drawn from poetic techniques and structure when discussing relevant contextual concerns.

“Wild Swans at Coole”, “Easter 1916” and “The Second Coming” encapsulate the romanticism in his early poetry to civil influences and then a modernist approach in the later years. The three poems explore distinct transition of a poet while discussing ideas of history, love and politics.

“WC”, written in romantic style, emphasises his inner turmoil through an array of poetic techniques entrenched within a cynical yet lethargic tone. “Nine and fifty swans” exemplifies the misery of his single life by juxtaposing the strength in unity of the swans. This enduring symbol of swans in his poetry evokes empathy towards his depressed state as he continues to elevate the imagery of the swans by juxtaposing their unity “cold companionable streams” to his solitude.

The subtle metaphor to Maud Gonne’s beauty in “clamorous wings” and “brilliant creatures” accentuates a response of sympathy as romantic vibrant imagery ironically contrasts the woes of rejection. The reader’s views are best influenced through a nihilistic outlook on the poem, which questions the purpose of existence, showcasing the persona’s plight of losing zest in life. “The heart is sore” highlights his worsening mental state in questioning existence, evoking reflection from the reader on their personal troubles. It allows textual integrity in decoding themes of anguish and sadness, despite any contextual audience.

Bornstein describes the juxtaposition of the eternal symbol of the swans as ‘the Great Romantic Lyric’. He notes how personal reflections delve on the concerns of solidarity and of questioning the purpose of life, relevant to universal notions of humanity etc. The techniques and systolic structure provides textual integrity by allowing relevance for a large contextual audience, with the themes transcending time and context. The contrast of the swans’ magnificence in their immortal portrayal to Yeats’ anguish in his “twilight years” of mental state establishes two aspects of human nature, developing a sense of ambiguity.

“Easter 1916” portrays a stark contrast of Ireland before and after the Irish Uprising. Patriotism, with Mysticism in “wherever green is worn”, is evident through the vivid imagery portraying Ireland. Political idealism is a transition from personal concerns in WC to civil concerns of Ireland and serves as a medium to reflect on the morals that define contextual society, reinforcing the enduring power of his poetry.

Romantic influences paint a calm and peaceful portrait of Ireland through a tranquil tone. The mood is pleasant in the “nod of the head” and “polite meaningless words” as the reader deduces a positive outlook on society. It explicitly contrasts the repetition of “a terrible beauty is born” when reflecting on the violence in Ireland, shaping a personal response influenced by his perception of a struggle diminishing the essence of a pleasant aforementioned society. The stone to the “troubled living stream” emphasises Yeats’ support for the movement by placing English oppression as a metaphoric stone to the Irish progress.

Despite patriotism as a prominent theme, critic C. K. Stead states Yeats wears a “mask of tragic chorus”, reflecting on the events without a stern conviction on the matter. It creates ambivalence, demanding the reader’s personal reflection on the struggle. In turn, we are urged to reflect on such concerns relevant today, empowering the eternal relevance in Yeats’ poetry. Thus textual integrity is evident as the reader is able to interpret the ambiguous nature by decoding the techniques and structure which discuss the theme of political struggle and relate the themes to modern society. It reinforces the enduring nature of his poetry.

Yeats shifts from civil concerns in “Easter 1916” to a modernist view of an apocalyptic revelation in “SC”, portraying a continual transition of themes which establishes the enduring power of his poetry. A cynical lethargic tone depicts a saddened perception of civilisation after WWII. His modernist approach relating to the gyre theory is best interpreted with the occultist reading, which focuses on decoding symbols to give meaning. “Turning of the widening gyre” depicts a belief that outer gyres of history and civilisation have converged to a centre of chaos.

“Surely some revelation is at hand” emphasizes the anarchy in society, in relation to WWII and Irish struggles. Allen Tate states “Yeats asks us to question both his and our minds”, evoking a response to Yeats’ voice as the reader reflects such concerns to modern society. The occultist outlook decodes the pagan influence in “The falcon cannot hear the falconer” as a growing distance between Man and God, as Yeats’ scrutinizes the absence of morals and ethics in society of 1921. W. H. Auden criticizes Yeats’ supernatural theme, however it results in urging the reader to reflect on themes of humanity discussed, which are still relevant to society. Herein lays textual integrity, which provides eternal relevance to the poem, empowering the enduring power of his poetry.

Textual integrity through ambivalence is evident in “Slouches towards Bethlehem” as the Occultist view suggests allusion to birth, death or rebirth, leaving the reader to interpret the meaning from the techniques and themes. This ambiguous nature in textual integrity provides link in themes and morals relevant to a vast contextual audience. Thus the enduring power is derived from this modernist approach.

The three poems explore styles of a poet continually re-inventing himself. The transition from romanticism to modernism while discussing personal relations and civil concerns depicts the enduring power of poetry that can relate to any contextual audience. Hence, the timeless appeal of his poetry, coupled with the textual integrity in the themes, shapes personal responses and evokes interpretations from readers regarding the ambivalence in his work.

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