Literary Devices In Easter 1916

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W.B. Yeat’s poem, Easter 1916, details the speaker’s feelings of Nationalism and heartache as he remembers those that he lost in the Easter Rising. As the speaker reflects on the time before the rising, he remembers not only how his life has changed but also how his friends and companions had transformed both in their character and in their state of being. The speaker uses metaphors to visualize the unchanging goal of Irish freedom and the coming of nights that bring about death and heartache. In this analysis, I will be focusing on the first and last stanzas of the poem. By comparing these two stanzas I will reflect on the literary devices used, as well as the differences of the speaker’s visuals from the beginning and end. Overall, the speaker…show more content…
The speaker ends the stanza with “But lived where motley is worn / All changed, changed utterly: / A terrible beauty is born” (Yeats 15-17). The literal meaning of this stanza is that the speaker of the poem and the people he acquainted himself with lived and wore motley or patched clothing a jester wears. The metaphorical meaning of this is that motley is the vehicle for the tenor of life, meaning that it was comical in the fact that it had little substance or value. This changed when the terrible beauty was born. To describe beauty as terrible is an oxymoron, which can be interpreted as the discordance between these two words and what they mean. Within the context of the poem, the terrible beauty could be the goal of Irish freedom and Irish men and women willing to fight and die for their country. Just as love can cause pain, the beauty that is formed through Nationalism and loyalty to their country can cause suffering to its people. The beauty can also be taken as the value that was gained from fighting for what they believed in compared to living meaningless lives before the war. The “terrible” aspect to this is that people had to die in order for life to have meaning for
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