Essay about William Butler Yeats

2867 Words 12 Pages
William Butler Yeats.

William Butler Yeats was the major figure in the cultural revolution which developed from the strong nationalistic movement at the end of the 19th century. He dominated the writings of a generation. He established forms and themes which came to be considered as the norms for writers of his generation.

Yeats was a confessional poet - that is to say, that he wrote his poetry directly from his own experiences. He was an idealist, with a purpose. This was to create Art for his own people - the Irish. But in so doing, he experienced considerable frustration and disillusionment. The tension between this ideal, and the reality is the basis of much of his writing. One central theme of his earlier poetry is the contrast
…show more content…
In the final stanza, the poet's mood of anger and bitterness changes to one of acceptance and resignation. He concludes that these petty minded merchants are so locked into their narrow world of self centred survival, that they are incapable of understanding the motivation and self sacrifice of patriotism. Even if the dead heroes could return and confront the merchants with the extent of their sacrifices, they would be unable to understand or appreciate what they had done. Self interest and materialism reign, idealism is dead and buried. He concludes on a weary note of acceptance.
But let them be, they're dead and gone,
They're with O'Leary in the grave.

The Fisherman.

This poem is also about Art, and the Irish people's response to it. It is structured around the contrast between the Yeats' dream to write for the Irish people, and the reality.
The poem opens on a casual conversational note,
Although I can see him still introducing us to the Fisherman, a wise and simple man who is the symbol of the Irish nation he had hoped to write for.
Yeats has long since accepted that such a man does not exist, but nonetheless he holds on to him as an inspiration to protect himself against the reality.
The reality is depicted in a litany of powerful, clever men, who misuse their abilities for their own personal ends - which are chiefly, the acquisition and maintenance of power. Their goal is public acclaim, cynically acquired through a popularity based on the
Catch cries of the
Open Document