Love, desire, loneliness, aging, timelessness, beauty, the turmoil of modern civilization, romanticism and modernism are all characteristics under which Yeats have shaped his text about which expresses the reality of his time, genuinely showcasing the legitimacy and influence in his poetry. Seen as obsessive and an elitist, his themes, images, symbols, metaphors, and poetic sensibilities encompass his own notion of experience as well as the troubled times experienced by his nation, all coupling with Irish and Greek mythology and the 19th Century occultism all wounding together and informed by his knowledge of his interpretative understanding.
A particular influential element of Yeats poetry is the substantial reference to history. Yeats believed that politics and art were intrinsically linked which had influenced his writing and attitude towards Irish politics also educating the audience on Irish history, believing that his poems could both critique and comment on political events, as well as educate and inform a population. Yeats as well explores relationship between arts and politics, heavily influenced by his deep connection to Ireland. In one of his poems, Easter 1916, talks the Easter 1916 rebellion.
The poem begins with personal observations and the presentation of the poet of which influences the rest of the poem with the repetition “I”, initially this indicates his distance – his disconnection with the cause, however as these events unfold his empathy is induced, his superior attitude towards the masses show aristocratic unfamiliarity with the nation, the expression of ‘motley’ and ‘stone’ creates subtleness through the multiple meanings of the words, this allows the poem to have many interpretations. The poem is divided into 4 stanzas and like most of his poetry, transitions from general to specific.
At first the people in the poem are unknown, they are described as “motley” and is later identified as wearing “green”. ‘Motley’ in the context of the poem can be perceived as non-conformists which is in stark contrast to the ‘green’ which he later describes as wearing could potentially be a reference to the color of Ireland. As Yeats was initially critical, he credits the sacrifices of the supreme leaders for a noble cause towards the end which could allude to his regret of his lack of conviction and participation, his admiration potentially indicating absolving submission.
In relation to the history element in Yeat’s writing, Yeats expresses the popular theme of how fate and divinity could affect history. His devotion to mysticism led to the symbolic word ‘gyre’, to which in the second coming, is derived from. The second coming, one of Yeats poems, deals with apocalypse, the aftermath of uprisings, deterioration, decline and dissolution, as ‘the second coming’ is a biblical reference of the end of the world. The poem opens with tone of chaos, loss of control and a destroyed chain of order but all is detached in the eventuality through optimism and authority.
In the first stanza, Yeats uses the symbolic Ireland as a microcosm to illustrate the view of historical cycles, of which has reached the pinnacle of expansion. “blood-dimmed time” which refers to slaughter during WWI relates to the warning that the world is in a pit of anarchy and rage. “Surely some revelation is at hand; surely the second coming is at hand”; Yeats hopes with his mysticism that with the explosion of the ‘gyre’ of history will cause a new antithetical age.
The technique of the repetition of particular words “turning and turning”, “falcon.. falconer” adds weight to Yeats assertion of meaning and to emphasize the element of time and control. Initially Yeats was a romantic poet then became a modernist poet which is a theme of which plays in his poems; the transition from romanticism to modernism. Yeats personal experiences voice through his work such as Maud Gonne which had caused the cynical romantic idealism of his work.
The reflection of years passing by in his poem “The Wild Swans at Coole”, reflect the change of one’s physicality such as with age comes deterioration of beauty, Yeats suggests attitudes about death and eternity, the poem revolves around a romantic theme with a modern obliqueness. The recounting of the Yeats trips to count the swans on the water is given its serenity by the beautiful nature imagery with the line “Their hearts have not grown old… ” Yeats, who is in gentle pain of personal memory, juxtaposes evidently with the swans, which are treated as symbols as their hearts have not grown ‘old’.
Conclusively, Yeats, who was seen as an elitist and obsessed, had written with great influence of his identity, personal experience and beliefs, incorporated with his knowledge of history, the exploration of mysticism, his interpretative understanding of his time, and his constructive views towards arts and politics, has been undermined in the eyes of critics, his ingenuity in his writing proves that his work is ultimat ely legitimate and influential in his time, or maybe of all time.