'A Memorial Tribute to Yeats: An Exploration of His Work through the Application of Critical Readings'

Essay by swesty2001High School, 12th grade July 2006

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William Butler Yeats has often been described as the greatest poet in the history of Ireland and probably the greatest poet to write in Great Britain during the 20th Century. His themes, symbols, images, metaphors and ability to evoke an emotional response were all directly influenced by his tremendous personal experiences, as well as, his nation's experience during one of its most turbulent times. Yeats' poetic vision was to embody his own life, including his thoughts, feelings, dreams, opinions and beliefs into poetry. His incredible literary illustrations took inspiration from Irish and Greek mythology, 19th Century occultism and spiritualism, English literature, Byzantine art, Christian imagery and European politics. These elements were then brought together and enhanced by Yeats' own experiences and interpretive understanding.

The national poet of Ireland, Yeats was fiercely patriotic and loved his country dearly. He was also a prominent supporter in the development of an independent national identity within Ireland, a strong undercurrent to many of his poems.

However, Yeats was strongly opposed to political action becoming militant, which is seen in many of his works, particularly those relating to the Easter Uprising of 1916 and the creation of the political martyr. In his poem "Easter 1916", Yeats addresses both the political and the socio-economic struggle for power within Ireland in the fight for independence and national identity. This "struggle" may be appreciated by the audience through the application of Marxism, which directly relates back to issues of political power within society.

"Easter 1916"

The poem "Easter 1916" is based on the Easter Uprising of 1916 and focuses on the dramatic transformation of politics within Ireland, in particular the concept of a developing national identity and creation of a political martyr. Imagery is powerfully implemented within the poem, as is the...