Yeats Through A Modernist Lens. The Modernist View Of Poetry
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Yeats through a Modernist Lens The modernist view of poetry is most often compounded through depictions of unparalleled chaos, fragmentation, and disjuncture from the poetic self and society as a whole. In William Butler Yeats’ poetry, he embodies these defining perspectives by his representation of society within concepts of decay. More specifically, Yeats’ poems “Leda and the Swan” and “The Second Coming” epitomize the poetic techniques that define modernist views of poetry. In essence, these two poems compile deviations from previously established poetic ideals and, in their place, create a disseverance between the poet, speaker, society, and audience.
In “Leda and the Swan”, Yeats compounds the oppositional elements of modernism into…show more content… In contrast, Yeats’ inverted modernist version of the standing tradition invokes a sense of terror and disgust. For example, where in Shakespeare’s sonnet 18, the poet uses diction such as “lovely” and “darling”, Yeats’ “Leda and the Swan” incorporates terms like “terrified”, “brute” and “staggering”. This explicit opposition points to Yeats as a modernist figure; that is, Yeats’ use of form as a means to create conflicts within the poem highlights the most basic depictions of modernism, conveying a sense of fragmentation of society.
Also in “Leda and the Swan” Yeats conveys a sense of modernism through a connection between the the concept of denaturalization of language and imagery. Denaturalization of language is the idea in the modernist period that words are no longer effective in expressing the intended meaning; language, instead of revealing meaning, only further conceals it. In this way, words no longer mean what they originally meant, which essentially aimed to disassemble previous poetic techniques that mirror the breakdown of society following the first World War. In stanza one, the swan’s “great wings” are “beating still”. Already, a certain ambiguity is introduced into the poem’s atmosphere. “Beating” seems to suggest movement, whereas “still” suggests the exact opposite. This paradoxical juxtaposition sets an eerie and distressing tone for the rest of the poem. It creates a precedent of