Presentation on theme: "Yeats’s Poems ENGL 203 Dr. Fike. Review What main event cast a pall over the early part of the Modern period? What was the key innovation in poetry? What."— Presentation transcript:
Yeats’s Poems ENGL 203 Dr. Fike
Review What main event cast a pall over the early part of the Modern period? What was the key innovation in poetry? What term did Eliot coin to go along with this? In fiction, a different sense of time led to what technique? What work suggests interest in the primitive?
Answers WW I: See “Prufrock” and the opening of The Wasteland (from Chaucer unit). The image. Cf. objective correlative. Stream of consciousness. Joyce’s Ulysses is the best example. Conrad’s novel is NOT stream of consciousness. Heart of Darkness.
Outline for Yeats’s Poems Yeats’s Romantic Legacy Y’s Concern with Mortality Y’s Concept of Antinomies Yeats’s Use of Myth Yeats on Art
Summary of Key Points in Yeats Romanticism: A major characteristic of the Modern period (see next slide) –18 th century and Victorian: Reason > imagination –Romanticism and Modernism: Imagination > reason Irish nationalism—Celtic revival, esp. in theater (somewhat like the emphasis on the primitive) Used a variety of myths: Christian, classical, his own; like Blake, private myth-making Maud Gonne—the woman who got away Terms: antinomies, gyres Important themes: art, aging, sexuality
Periodicity 18 th Century Romantic Period Victorian Period Modern Period
“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” %20203/203%20Innisfree.htmhttp://faculty.winthrop.edu/fikem/Courses/ENGL %20203/203%20Innisfree.htm “wattle” = “poles intertwined with twigs, reeds, or branches for use in construction, as of walls or fences” (American Heritage Dictionary) What do we know about the speaker? Do you hear echoes of WW here? Of Thoreau? What about the Bible? What does the poem say about time?
“Innisfree” Speaker: Tired of the male urban setting (roadway and pavement), he is drawn by the feminine rural setting (glade and water). Key points: imagination, memory, eye and ear (parallel to WW) Allusions: –Prodigal son: “‘I will arise and go to my father’” (Luke 15:18). Has the speaker been a prodigal by being in the city, or will he be prodigal by going to Innisfree? Probably the former because the allusion suggests the restoration that presumably follows his return to Innisfree. –Bean rows: These echo Walden and convey a sense that Innisfree is a pastoral retreat. –WW: References to things that one can be seen or heard (cf. “eye and ear” in “TA”); the same view of nature as WW: memory activates the imagination in the final stanza. Time: Note the breaking of chronological order: –The roadway suggests clock time –“slow” in line 5 –City:Innisfree::clock time: timelessness::chronos:kairos
“The Song of Wandering Aengus” ENGL%20203/203%20Aengus.htmhttp://faculty.winthrop.edu/fikem/Courses/ ENGL%20203/203%20Aengus.htm
“Aengus” Romantic quest poem; cf. esp. Shelley’s “Alastor” and Keats’s “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.” Coleridge’s “Rime” is also in the background. Nature is present here: The Irish landscape, concrete natural details, simplicity, homeliness. The poem draws on Irish myth and therefore attempts to rouse national consciousness. It is a personal utterance by a speaker (“I”) who has something in common with Yeats: namely, that he is to the maid as Yeats is to Maud Gonne. In other words, Yeats associates himself and the people he knew with figures in Irish myth: the maid in the poem is Maud. Both Yeats and his poem’s persona sought a woman without success; thus his imagination mythologized his life.
POINT Yeats moved from early Romanticism (“Innisfree,” “Song of Wandering Aengus”) to later disillusion, especially in terms of the physical body. Poems about Mortality: –"Among School Children" –"Sailing to Byzantium" –"The Wild Swans at Coole"
“Among School Children” Stanza 2: “a Ledaean body” = Maud Stanza 3: Imagines Maud as a little girl Children vs. old people; youth vs. age = antinomy (next slide) –Y as old man in stanza 1: “A sixty-year-old smiling public man.” –Scarecrow image in stanza 6: “Old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird.” Art is permanent: people age; art does not; life vs. art Art in stanza 7: “a marble or a bronze repose” Last stanza, however, suggests a kind of immortality in a timeless paradise through identity with art. “How can we tell the dancer from the dance?” Answer: We cannot because both are immortal.
Antinomies Definition: “an apparent contradiction between valid principles or conclusions that seems equally necessary and unreasonable”; “a conflict, opposition, or contradiction” (American Heritage Dictionary). Very much like contraries in Blake.
Examples Reason vs. emotion Science vs. instinct Practical action vs. imagination: “Innisfree” Youth vs. age: “School Children” Body vs. soul: “Crazy Jane” Nature vs. art: Byzantium poems Power vs. knowledge: “Leda”
“Sailing to Byzantium” Begins with a lament about youth’s disregard of old people: “Monuments of unageing intellect.” Youth:body::old age:mind. Antinomies. The “birds in the trees” are real birds, unlike the metal ones see in “Byzantium.” The speaker is still alive; he has sailed to Byzantium (present-day Istanbul), the holy city of art, on the wings of the imagination. See line 22: “a dying animal” = Y’s condition. He merely IMAGINES leaving nature at death and entering “the artifice of eternity” (line 24). The final stanza is about the same association with art that we have in “Among School Children”: Yeats imagines the afterlife as an eternity of art or artifice. Note: There is more on this poem below.
“The Wild Swans at Coole” ENGL%20203/203%20Wild%20Swans.ht mhttp://faculty.winthrop.edu/fikem/Courses/ ENGL%20203/203%20Wild%20Swans.ht m
“Wild Swans” October: old age Yeats: is the 19 th summer “my count” = of years, swans, or both “wheeling”: gyre-like flight NOT parallel to “TA”: “I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,” etc. The swans make his heart “sore.” “Unwearied still, lover by lover”—the swans are an image of immortality. “Passion or conquest”—Yeats remained interested in sex into old age. Eye and ear? Gyre: It is pronounced “jire” (soft j as in “jar”) and rhymes with “fire.”
“The Coming of Wisdom with Time” Though leaves are many, the root is one; Through all the lying days of my youth I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun; Now I may wither into the truth. POINT: Knowledge mellows into wisdom. Antimony = youth vs. wisdom.
“Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop” What antinomies do you see here? Read and discuss the poem.
Antinomies in “Crazy Jane” Fair and foul Soul and hole Grave and bed Heaven and sty Lowliness and pride Sole and whole Religious and secular Chaste and sexual Love and excrement
The Bishop in “Crazy Jane” Bishop = a former “divinity student who had courted Jane in his youth. She rejected him in favor of a wild, disreputable lover: Jack the journeyman. As soon as he got enough authority, the Bishop-to-be had Jack banished, but Jane has remained faithful to her lover (at least, in spirit)” (Unterecker). The bishop’s interest in Jane has evidently dwindled to concern for her soul only.
Crazy Jane Herself She lives alone in squalor. Her friends are gone. She sleeps alone. Yet she renounces the bishop’s advice.
Key Words “pitched”: love sets up its mansion as one would pitch a tent “sole or whole”—soul and hole are antinomies. –The bishop thinks that soul is all that counts. –Jane knows that you need both soul and hole (sexuality) –Yeats: “I want to exorcise that slut, Crazy Jane, whose language has become unendurable.”
Hole with Soul _Yhttp://youtube.com/watch?v=UeLXwFRKK _Y
The Moral of “Crazy Jane” What do YOU think it is? Write possible morals in your notebook.
Possible Morals A woman cannot be fulfilled and remain a virgin. You cannot know Platonic love without physical love. The universe is by nature a combination of fair and foul. “Only in experiencing everything, fair and foul, can the soul be made whole. Only by being torn [i.e., made more than one] can it ultimately be made ‘sole’ [i.e., one]” (Unterecker).
Yeats’s Use of Myth Classical myth: “Leda and the Swan” –What kind of poem is it? –What marks the major break in the poem? –What creates a sense of violence and motion? –What is the relationship between the poem and classical myth? –What is the answer to the final question?
Answers Petrarchan sonnet. The swan’s orgasm. Scansion: dactyls –STAG ger ing –TER ri fied –LOOS en ing –In DIFF er ent Zeus (swan) rapes Leda; their offspring are Helen (who causes the Trojan war) and Clytemnestra (who helps murder her husband, Agamemnon after he returns from the Trojan War). It is unusual for a sonnet to end with a question. Of course, the answer is NO. The last word = an off rhyme or slant rhyme. So the line acts out an answer to the question it asks.
More on “Swan” The swan (a god) is a symbol of antitheses/antinomies reconciled: in him, knowledge and power exist together. For human beings, this is not usually the case. The Trojan war and its aftermath are a good example of the DISUNITY of knowledge and power. Agamemnon has power but not knowledge and is killed by his wife and her lover.
Yeats’s Use of Christian Myth “The Magi”: –The magi are disappointed: they want another birth. –Parallel to Y’s own inability to believe in Christ. –Compare to Eliot’s “The Journey of the Magi”: a good RP topic.
Yeats’s Own Mythology “The Second Coming”: DISCUSSION –What is the key image here? –What is Spiritus Mundi? –What connection might there be to WW I?
“The Second Coming” The poem is about mortality. Yeats was old and facing death; he may have taken some comfort in the idea that history was about to end an era. Imagery: falcon and falconer; spiral/gyre. WW I: “blood-dimmed tide” and “ceremony of innocence.” Spiritus Mundi (spirit of the world) may be the collective unconscious: the storehouse of archetypal symbols. “Its source of this particular image is in ancient Egypt, which is felt to be impervious to the humanitarian, individualistic tendency of Christianity” (Rosenthal). See Matthew 24:29-31 for a version of the second coming; cf. John’s vision of the anti-Christ in Revelation. The poem is a Greater Romantic Lyric.
Gyres “The end of an age, which always receives the revelation of the character of the next age, is represented by the coming of the gyre to its place of greatest expansion and of the other to that of its greatest contraction. At the present moment the life gyre is sweeping outward, unlike that before the birth of Christ which was narrowing, and has almost reached its greatest expansion. The revelation which approaches will however take its character from the contrary movement of the interior gyre” (Yeats in Michael Robartes and the Dancer).
Y’s Gyres lhttp://www.crystalinks.com/gyresyeats.htm l
Yeats’s Poems about Art: “Lapis Lazuli” Lapis lazuli is “An opaque azure-blue to deep-blue gemstone of lazurite” (American Heritage Dictionary). “It has been valued throughout the ages as a link to the all-knowing sources of knowledge and for invoking wisdom” (http://sassyandtwisted.com/gems.htm).http://sassyandtwisted.com/gems.htm Various arts are depicted here: visual art, music, literature (poetry, drama).
“Lazuli” Stanzas 2-5 defend the art condemned by the hysterical women in stanza 1. The imagery here relates to WW I. Yeats favors art that allows people to face death positively: not with hysteria but with “ancient, glittering eyes” (last line). In stanza 2, tragic figures who are gay in the face of death, unlike the hysterical women: tragedy gives pleasure. Stanza 3: Sculptors who are gay in defeat: decline and rise—all things fail, but they are built again. Stanza 4: Parallel to Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn”—the poem presents and moves into a scene on lapis lazuli: imagination is active here (a Romantic characteristic). Stanza 5: Imagination is active here too; interplay of artist, object, and audience (think of these as a triangle). –Watercourse or avalanche? –Snow or blossoms? –Ties together the 3 arts: gaiety in tragic literature (2), gaiety in the visual arts (3), and gaiety in music (4-5): all of these are integrated on the lapis lazuli.
“Lazuli” Gaiety is now a positive term, unlike in the first stanza. Now it parallels contemplative detachment. The conflict is between art and the world: hysterical women parallel Maud Gonne who preferred politics over art. POINT: We should regard negative things in life as we would view a work of art or a play—with detached curiosity. Cf. Keats’s idea of “negative capability.”
“Sailing to Byzantium” An example of Y’s myth making. Byzantium is Y’s holy city of the imagination/art; present-day Istanbul in Turkey. Imagination is the means of sailing—of transport: by imagination we can SAIL to Byzantium, but we can only DWELL there after death. Speaker represents Yeats, the man/artist, and is still alive. Real bird here, not the metal ones of “Byzantium.” Bird reconciles opposites: possible only after death—leaves nature at death and enters the artifice of eternity (cf. “Among School Children”). Art has a divine function—the transcendence of time and death; the artist’s role is thus to transcend time (last line). Antinomy: youth vs. age. Youth:body::age:mind.
“Byzantium” Now the speaker is one of the initiated, watching souls arrive; therefore, this poem is about the speaker in the afterlife. Stanzas 1 and 2: the physical world is being left behind; 1 sets the scene; 2 introduces a spirit in Byzantium. Stanza 3: the golden bird represents a poem (it sings, as do Y’s poems); eternal reality that transcends cycles of reincarnation. Stanzas 3 & 4 give details of the dancing place. Stanza 4 gives purgatorial flames. Stanza 5: spirits begin a dance, and dancing signals Unity of Being (of body and soul). “All thought becomes an image, and the soul / Becomes a body” (15 th phase of the moon). END