Themes in Yeats' Poetry

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Themes in Yeats’ poetry
You can find many themes in Yeats’ poetry. Pick what suits your own study from the themes, comments and quotes listed below. There are 86 quotes used to illustrate themes on this page (although some of them are from poems outside the current OCR selection for AS Level). You will need only a short selection of these. 1. The theme of death or old age and what it leaves behind.
Death of Patriotism, leaving selfishness as the norm: ‘Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone, It’s with O’Leary in the grave’ [September 1913]
Death as useless sacrifice, Home Rule might be granted: ‘Was it needless death after all? For England may keep faith For all that is done and said’ [Easter 1916]
A man in old age alienated vibrant youthfulness: ‘The young in one another’s arms, birds in the trees – Those dying generations – at their song’ [Sailing to Byzantium]
Death of innocence: ‘The ceremony of innocence is drowned’ [Second Coming]
The self in old age, forsaken by beauty: ‘when I awake some day to find they have flown away’ [Wild Swans]
Death chosen out of a sense of despair: ‘A waste of breath the years behind, in balance with this life, this death’ [Airman]
Death and destruction during civil war: ‘A man is killed, or a house burned … the empty house…’ [Stare’s Nest]
Demise of the Aristocracy and despair at the vanity of human grandeur: ‘We the great gazebo built’ [Memory]
Old age and the remnants of a confined life: ‘Picture and book remain’ [Acre]
In old age, contempt for the present, defiant admiration for ancestry: ‘Cast your mind on other days That we in coming days may be Still the indomitable Irishry’ [Under Ben Bulben]
Facing death with contempt for overstated ceremony: ‘No marble, no conventional phrase’ [Under Ben Bulben]
Death provides a sanctuary from conflict and hatred: ‘Savage indignation there Cannot lacerate his breast’ [Swift’s Epitaph] 2. The theme of disintegration, chaos, sudden change:
‘They have gone about the world

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