“Yeats poetry is driven by a tension between the real world in which he lives and an ideal world he imagines”.
I certainly agree with this statement. Yeats raises the issue, a common one of reality verses the ideal. Yeats is an idealist, yet he is looking at the reality certainly in two cases ‘September 1913’ and ‘Easter 1916’. We see that Yeats is escaping the reality to his ideal world in ‘The lake Isle of Inisfree’ and ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. As we analyse ‘September 1913’, we discover that the poem is a scathing criticism of the mercenary materialism, which Yeats felt was rampant in Ireland 1913. ‘September 1913’ is a political ballad that contrasts the old nationalists to the new nationalists. As we see in stanza one, Yeats portrays the new nationalists as scrooge like figures whom are focused on praying and saving. The ‘shivering praying’ suggests the cowardice of the merchants. They don’t have the interests of the country at heart. O’Leary is a romanticised figure by Yeats with qualities that Yeats felt have been long since lost on the Irish people. Here, in stanza two Yeats discusses the heroes of old nationalism who are prepared to die for their country. Yeats idolises these men as these heroes had ‘little time’ to pray or save because they selflessly devoted their lives to the pursuit of a noble dream. In stanza 3, the emphasis on the word ‘this’ suggests a removal from what was seen to be the norm view of the day. Yeats realises that the Fenian heroes, such as O’Leary could be in vain. ‘Was it for this the wild geese spread, the grey wing upon every tide’ Yeats is taken by surprise at Easter 1916. Yeats does a volte facie and realises that he was wrong in his poem of September 1913. He has changed his opinion about the modern nationalists. Yeats shows personal resentment towards MacBride as he was referred to as ‘a drunken, vainglorious lout’, but then Yeats acknowledges his role in the Rising. Along with the other leaders of the Rising,...
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