William Butler Yeats- An Irish poet, dramatist, and prose writer- Known for having intellectual and often obscure poetry works- Quoted to be "one of the greatest English-language poets of the 20 th century"- Even Received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 o What was most recognizable about that fact is that he is famous for his lyrical poetic works that came after the prize- Yeats war born in 1865 in Dublin Yeats's childhood was broad in education and personal experiences. Yeats became a youth full of emotional contradictions. Spiritually, educationally, and personally, Yeats seemed to pull himself in different directions, unable to decide on a clear path. These internal contradictions would come to shape the writer and man that he would one day become. o Father was a lawyer turned painter o Art was no stranger in his family But his religious views were His spiritual outlook played significant role in his life and his works. Born into a Protestant family, with a paternal grandfather and great-grandfather having been Anglican clergymen, religion was a constant presence in his childhood.
Yeats began to abandon the religion of his Rationalist upbringing and made a new religion out of poetic tradition (Kuntz, 1560).' You know what the Englishman's idea of compromise is? He says, some people say there is a God. Some people say there is no God. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two statements.' - In his youth he was very interested in the occult- stemming from his fascination with Irish folk stories and tales - Became increasingly interested Mysticism Specifically, Reincarnation, communication with the dead, mediums, supernatural systems, and oriental mysticism Much of his work was influenced by these factors "The mystical life is the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write"- 1886 Formed the Dublin Lodge of the Hermetic Society Donned the name Daemon est Deus Inver suso Society discussed such issues as those listed above as well training on self to be a part of ito Such magical training consisted of the learning of magical and esoteric symbols, correspondences, creating interrelationships between the seasons, various parts of the body, the five elements, colors, numbers, etc. - time spent in college and much emotional growth and change Prompted his discovery of Ireland as a literary subject and his commitment to the cause of Irish national identity o He sought in his writing to create a fresh tradition and a unique style. He attempted to create a literature that was Irish in subject matter and tone.
- - 1910, Yeats's dramatic art took a sharp turn toward a highly poetical and mysterious style. - His later plays were written for small audiences; they experimented with masks, dance, and music, and were profoundly influenced by the Japanese Noh plays. Although a convinced patriot, Yeats deplored the hatred and the bigotry of the Nationalist movement, and his poetry is full of moving protests against it His recurrent themes are the contrast of art and life, masks, cyclical theories of life and the ideal of beauty and ceremony contrasting with the chaos of modern life. Yeats had the unique ability to take fantasy, mysticism, and the unknown and use it as an analogy to examine and explain the human condition He died at the age of 73 In this poem Yeats compares two visits that he made to Coole Park in County Gala way- one in 1879- and one in 1916- Coole Park was located near the country estate of Lady Gregory, a dear friend of Yeats who introduced him to Japanese drama- The time of day, an autumn evening, reflects the 's advancing age- Yeats recreates the awe and inspiration that he experienced in his youth in this poem- He includes details of trees and woodland paths as if retracing his steps in his memory- Blatantly uses a lot of imagery to try and illustrate the visual portrait he is experiencing in his state of nostalgia- In line 4, "the still sky" which looked the same in the past is to be contrasted with the sudden movement of the swans- He proclaims that "all's changed" since his previous visit- The swans are "wild" and have an untamed energy and freedom that resists Yeat's attempts to capture that nostalgic memory of the past in his mind's eye- The swan is a symbol of enduring love He reflects later that 'their hearts have not grown old" To him, the swans in all of their love and beauty seem the same, but he knows that he, 19 years later, is much different than the first time that he witnessed this serene scene at Coole Park- The swans emphasize a fixed flow in the inconsistencies of time "passion or conquest" Question whether the swans take off for the passion of flight or simply for the spirit of adventure- Yeats makes the swans seem other worldly, existing inside his state of nostalgia- In the final lines, he expresses doubt for the first time He seems to expect to find that the swans will have flown away one day and he will be left without the feelings of delight that they sin still in him Other 'men's eyes' will enjoy their beauty Meaning that time will go on and some one else will simply take his place The poem ends with a question which suggests that the poet is pondering not only what will happen in the future but also how he will feel then- This poem is filled with detailed imagery and an introspective steady theme of nostalgia.