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The Rose Tree By: William Butler Yeats Lecture 25.

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1 The Rose Tree By: William Butler Yeats Lecture 25

2 About the Poem It describes a fictional conversation between James Connolly and Padraig Pearse, the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. They state that they are willing to give their own lives to see the restoration of an Ireland governed by the Irish. The overt symbolism is that of Christ’s crucifixion; that Ireland will be resurrected anew if they spill their blood for it.

3 Poem 'O WORDS are lightly spoken,' Said Pearse to Connolly, 'Maybe a breath of politic words Has withered our Rose Tree; Or maybe but a wind that blows Across the bitter sea.‘ The rose is a symbol of resurrection and Ireland here.

4 Stanza 2 "It needs to be but watered,' James Connolly replied, "To make the green come out again And spread on every side, And shake the blossom from the bud To be the garden's pride.‘ Their country like the rose is drying up and dying.

5 Stanza 3 "But where can we draw water,' Said Pearse to Connolly, "When all the wells are parched away? O plain as plain can be There's nothing but our own red blood Can make a right Rose Tree.' Their land needs to be watered with their own blood.

6 Analysis Many themes are evoked including Irish folklore, spirituality, unrequited love, and Ireland’s struggle for independence. Yeats helped lead Irish Renaissance that sought to restore the influence of Gaelic language and culture on Irish literature.

7 Wilde Swoone at Coole William Yeats

8 Stanza 1 THE TREES are in their autumn beauty, The woodland paths are dry, Under the October twilight the water Mirrors a still sky; He visits the lake at Augusta Gregory’s Coole Park after 19 years & is inspired by the beautiful, serene surrounding while the day is drawing to its close.

9 Upon the brimming water among the stones Are nine and fifty swans. The poet walks down the dry woodland paths to the water which mirrors the October twilight of the sky. He observes 59 swans.

10 Stanza 2 The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me Since I first made my count; I saw, before I had well finished, All suddenly mount And scatter wheeling in great broken rings Upon their clamorous wings. The swans took flight while he was still counting and split up in rings. Clamorous: deafening sound of their wings.

11 Stanza 3 I have looked upon those brilliant creatures, And now my heart is sore. He feels that a lot has changed in his life.

12 All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight, The first time on this shore, The bell-beat of their wings above my head, Trod with a lighter tread. The First World War and the Irish Civil War have changed everything.

13 Stanza 4 Unwearied still, lover by lover, They paddle in the cold, Companionable streams or climb the air; The swans are not tired and swim or fly in pairs.

14 Their hearts have not grown old; Passion or conquest, wander where they will, Attend upon them still. There is a sense of freedom about their movements.

15 Stanza 5 But now they drift on the still water Mysterious, beautiful; Among what rushes will they build, The place has not lost its original beauty.

16 By what lake’s edge or pool Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day To find they have flown away? He feels all his dreams have fled.

17 Analysis The poem is set in five stanzas of six lines each. The lines are of varying length, but long and short tend to alternate. The rhyme scheme is ABCBDD. “The Wild Swans at Coole” is an evocative poem in which Yeats uses a setting and the memory of an experience, now being re-lived, to express his awareness of the ageing process. The season of autumn and the time of twilight symbolize the process of aging as nature dies away and light fades.

18 The beauty and freedom of the swans create a contrast with Yeats experiences through sight and sound effects. The birds have not aged or lost their ‘passion’ but Yeats is aware that as youth passes the passions are lost. There is a sad reality that aging is inevitable and the change has to be confronted and accepted.

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