William Butler Yeats's Sailing to Byzantium

Topics: Modernism, Ezra Pound, William Butler Yeats Pages: 2 (391 words) Published: February 9, 2014

William Butler Yeats's Sailing to Byzantium, is a poem that talks about the poet’s own feelings toward life, death and art. As an old man who experienced all of life's pleasures, has now reached a different understanding of life and its pleasures as ending in death. So, he is now looking for eternal, everlasting, and unfading glory. From the point of view of form, this poem has four octaves with rhyme {ababcc-dedeff-ghghkk-lmlmnn}. The rhyme scheme alternates in the first four lines than ends with same couplets, shows that there is balance in the poem.
In this poem, the narrator, probably the poet himself, reviews his own sentiments, those of an old man separated from death by only a few years. The first line of the poem starts a capitalized “THAT, perhaps referring to his own country, Ireland. This is an emphatic sentence stating that an old man has no place in this country and that country is just for young people. Yeats continues his poem by adding that those young people, birds and sea creatures are nothing but “dying generations” who are celebrating “whatever is begotten, born, and dies”. These generations are described as celebrating pleasure and sensual things. He, on the other hand, is looking for “unageing intellect”, and this search requires a journey.

In order to achieve this goal, the poet travels to Byzantium and is totally amazed by the monuments of art he sees there. This causes him to desire to be part of these works of art rather than to be part of the dying generations. He addresses these monuments: “O sages standing in God's holy fire”, and makes these requests: “be the singing-masters of my soul”, “Consume my heart away; sick with desire…”; “gather me into the artifice of eternity”. The poet’s place is not among ordinary “dying” generations, but rather among to the “sages” and with the elevated type of art. He is dissatisfied with world of dying bodies and looking for something lasting and...
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