Presentation on theme: "Easter 1916 William Yeats Lecture 24. About poet (1865-1939) Irish poet, dramatist and prose writer; educated in London and Dublin both. He was member."— Presentation transcript:
About poet (1865-1939) Irish poet, dramatist and prose writer; educated in London and Dublin both. He was member of Theosophical Society, whose mysticism appealed to him as it offered a form of imaginative life far removed from ugly worldly realities. Also took part in Irish nationalist cause, most of his poetry reflect the Irish nationalism. He, along with Lady Gregory and others, was one of the originators of the Irish Literary Theatre, which
gave its first performance in Dublin in 1899 with Yeats’ play The Countess Cathleen. To the end of his life Yeats remained a director of this theatre, which became the Abbey Theatre in 1904. He also published several volumes of poetry, notably Poems (1895) and The Wind Among the Reeds (1899) which are typical for their dreamlike atmosphere and use of Irish folklore and legend. In his early verse he displays debts to Edmund Spenser, Percy Bysshe Shelley and the Pre-Raphalite poets.
His later poetry discards the otherworldly, ecstatic atmosphere of these early lyrics and show a new direction where Yeats confronts reality and its imperfections. But for Yeats the relation between imagination, history, and the occult remains indispensable. In 1922, on the foundation of the Irish Free State, Yeats accepted an invitation to become a member of the new Irish Senate; he served for six years, and in 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
About Poem The Easter Rising was a rebellion, mostly in Dublin city, that lasted from April 24 th to April 30 th 1916. The insurgents included 1200 men and women from the Irish Volunteers, Irish Citizen Army and the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). The Rising was planned in secret by seven men, mostly of the Irish Republic Brotherhood, who had formed a “Military Council” just before the outbreak of First World War.
The leaders were Tom Clarke, Dean McDermott, Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, Joseph Plunkett, James Connolly, and Eamon Ceannt. Their plans were not known to the members of the Volunteers or leaders of IRB; when the plans were revealed to leader Eoine MacNeill at the last minute he tried to call off the rebellion by was only able to postpone the event from Easter Sunday to next Monday. The insurgents occupied positions around Dublin at the General Post Office (GPO), the Four Courts, the South
Dublin Union, Boland’s Mill, Stephen’ Green and Jacobs’ biscuit factory. To suppress the uprising, the British deployed over 16000 troops, artillery, and naval gunboat. After a week’s fighting about 450 people were killed and over 2000 wounded. The rebel’s headquarter at the GPO was bombarded into surrender; Patrick Pearse released the order of surrender on Friday 28 th April.
The insurgents had also arranged with the Germans for an importation of arms (to be delivered on Friday, 21 st April) but this shipment was discovered by the British. The Rising was not widely supported by the Dublin public and was condemned by the Irish Parliamentary Party. Yet the its repression alongwith continued postponement of Home Rule, the growing casualties
of the First World War helped increase the strength of the future nationalist parties esp. Sinn Fein. History In the 1600’s and 1700’s, there were bloody wars and rebellions against British rule, also in 1830-1860. mostly these were led by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, usually known as Fenians, after a mythical Irish army in the past.
By 1880’s the resistance to British rule became more effective mainly because of democratic methods. The Irish Home Rule Party campaigned for Home Rule for Ireland, which meant that Ireland would still be part of the British Empire but would have its own Parliament – twice British government rejected these demands. At the time of First World War, Irish MPs agreed to encourage the Volunteers to serve in the British Army, and in return expected Home Rule after the war ended.
Analysis of the poem I have met them at close of day Coming with vivid faces From counter or desk among grey Eighteenth-century houses. Yeats personally knew those who were part of the rebellion, mostly parliamentarians. Houses in Merrion Square where Yeats lived, but the most prominent was Leinster House that holds the Irish Parliament.
I have passed with a nod of the head Or polite meaningless words, Or have lingered awhile and said Polite meaningless words, He shared with them light talk.
And thought before I had done Of a mocking tale or a gibe To please a companion Around the fire at the club, Gibe: an insulting or mocking remark He met them and shared jokes with them in the comfort of the club.
Being certain that they and I But lived where motley is worn: All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. M.otley: colorful like joker’s dress He regrets that all that is no more now, and a change both terrifying and glorious is born after the Rising.
Stanza 2 That woman's days were spent In ignorant good-will, Her nights in argument Until her voice grew shrill. That woman: Constance Harkieweez, member Irish Citizen Army – one of 17 women to participate in the Rising & was later given life sentence. She didn’t understand the true scale of their decision.
What voice more sweet than hers When, young and beautiful, She rode to harriers? Harriers: name of the club he describes their human qualities and makes them alive through his description.
This man had kept a school And rode our wingèd horse; This other his helper and friend Was coming into his force; The two teachers: Patrick Pearse & Thomas McDonagh (also leaders) Winged horse: Pegassus, reference to inspiration
He might have won fame in the end, So sensitive his nature seemed, So daring and sweet his thought. McDonagh would have lived to become famous.
This other man I had dreamed A drunken, vainglorious lout. He had done most bitter wrong To some who are near my heart, Yet I number him in the song; This other: John McBride (who married Maud Gonne – activist whom Yeats loved) Lout: fellow
He, too, has resigned his part In the casual comedy; He, too, has been changed in his turn, Transformed utterly: A terrible beauty is born Casual comedy: it was not planned seriously Again he shows ambivalent attitude towards the act, & calls it ‘terrible’ also ‘beauty’
Stanza 3 Hearts with one purpose alone Through summer and winter seem Enchanted to a stone To trouble the living stream. Hearts of these people compared to stone, and the events to the running stream – just as a stone can’t stop the flow of the stream, these people could not change the course of events.
The horse that comes from the road, The rider, the birds that range From cloud to tumbling cloud, Minute by minute they change; There is constant change in Nature, nothing is stationary;
Minute by minute they change; A shadow of cloud on the stream Changes minute by minute; A horse-hoof slides on the brim, And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive, And hens to moor-cocks call; Minute by minute they live: The stone’s in the midst of all. Everything in Nature moves on but the stone is an attempt to stop the change – the comparisons suggest that the sacrifice of these people like stone hasn’t been able to change anything.
Stanza 4 Too long a sacrifice Can make a stone of the heart. O when may it suffice? his people have suffered for a long time and given many sacrifices but they have got nothing in return.
That is Heaven's part, our part To murmur name upon name, As a mother names her child When sleep at last has come On limbs that had run wild. Only Heavens can change their enemy. They can only count their dead ones.
What is it but nightfall? No, no, not night but death; Was it needless death after all? For England may keep faith For all that is done and said. He questions if the sacrifice was actually needed. England may have kept its promise of Home Rule after the War.
We know their dream; enough To know they dreamed and are dead; And what if excess of love Bewildered them till they died? Pays tribute to them; they died fulfilling their dream. They died for the love of their country.
I write it out in a verse— MacDonagh and MacBride And Connolly and Pearse Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn, Are changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. Green is the national color of Ireland. These people have written history with their blood & their sacrifices will never be forgotten now.
Analysis It is eulogy for those who died in the Easter uprising, 1916. Reflects ambivalent attitude of the poet about the uprising as it failed to achieve its objectives and resulted in unnecessary deaths. This is suggested throughout the poem implicitly. The act is described both as heroic and terrible.