The Stolen Child
"The Stolen Child", a poem by W.B. Yeats, can be analyzed on several levels. The poem is about a group of faeries that lure a child away from his home "to the waters and the wild"(chorus). On a more primary level the reader can see connections made between the faery world and freedom as well as a societal return to innocence. On a deeper and second level the reader can infer Yeats' desire to see a unified Ireland of simpler times. The poem uses vivid imagery to establish both levels and leaves room for open interpretation especially with the contradictory last stanza.
Nature and the land of the faeries present images of freedom throughout the first three stanzas. "There lies a leafy island"(Stanza 1, Line 3) where the faeries live, which is presumably far away from the world of pain and "weeping"(chorus) that is reality. The image of an island is used to represent separation from the real world and the freedom that it creates for the faeries. In the second stanza the faeries are "mingling hands and glances"(Stanza 2, line 6) and leaping "to and fro"(Stanza 2, Line 8) presenting an image of youth and lack of restrictions. The faeries call the child away to "the waters and the wild"(chorus) in the chorus. Yeats use of the image water is symbolic of free flowing life. The "wild" represents the faeries ability to live a life unrestricted by society. The first three stanzas have strong Celtic references that lead the reader to believe that Yeats wishes for a return to more innocent and less politicized world of the past. A myth that often appears in Celtic legend is that of the faery stealing a human child and replacing it with a changeling. Yeats utilizes this myth to illustrate his desire for a return of innocence to society. When Ireland was primarily a pagan nation, before Catholicism and Protestantism, these myths were abundant. The image of a child, who has not yet come to realize the pains of the world, is "stolen" and...
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