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WB Yeats PowerPoint Presentation

WB Yeats

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WB Yeats

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  1. WB Yeats The wild swans at Coole September 1913 Easter 1916 An Irish airman foresees his death Sailing to Byzantium The lake isle of Innisfree

  2. September 1913 • A bitter attack on the Irish merchant / middle classes. • A lament for the Romantic Ireland of old. • Prompted by 2 key issues • The 1913 lockout • Lack of support for a gallery to house the Hugh Lane collection. • This demonstrated a mercenary / money-grabbing attitude • No appreciation for art or culture. • Lack of compassion for their fellow Irishmen. • There is a contrast between the materialistic present and the romanticised / heroic past.

  3. 1 • The speaker addresses the merchant classes with an accusation in question form. He accuses them of… • Being miserly, money-grabbing self centered materialists. • Note the “fumbling in a greasy till” and the adding of “half pence to the pence”. Yeats’ contempt is clear. • They’re also hypocrites….. • they add “prayer to shivering prayer”. • Their religious faith is hypocrisy given the consequences of their actions. • “you have dried the marrow from the bone”. • They lack any compassion for their fellow Irishmen

  4. 1 contd…. • Yeats states that “men were born to pray (prey?) and save”. His tone is bitter and sarcastic. • The refrain sets up a contrast between the disappointing present and the heroic past. • The values of the heroic past are dead, like O Leary. • Two sets of people representing two opposing sets of values • Self centered materialism and debased religion. • Self-sacrificial heroism.

  5. 2 • Yeats speaks of the patriots of the heroic past. • There was a time when the mere mention of their names was enough to bring childrens games to a halt. These heroes are universally honoured. • Yeats contrasts them sharply with the present, by playing on the words “pray” and save” from stanza 1. • “Little time had they to pray…And what, god help us, could they save?” They paid the ultimate price for their values…..”the hangman’s rope”. • So whilst Yeats’ contemporaries are preoccupied only with what they can get for themselves, the heroes of the past give everything for the greater good….even their own lives. • The refrain, once again insists that these heroic values are a thing of the past.

  6. 3 • The “this” of 17, 19, 20, refers to the Ireland of Yeats’ time. • He compares the situation with • The wild geese • Robert Emmet • Edward Fitzgerald • Wolfe Tone • He’s asking, in essence, ‘was this what they died for?’ • All that heroism • All the suffering, self-sacrifice and death • Repititionof “this” reinforces the intensity of Yeats’ disgust…the depth of his bitterness. • The “delerium of the brave” refers to the passion with which the heroes of old gave themselves to their cause. • Once again the refrain emphasises the death of the old values and ideals.

  7. 4 • Yeats imagines how it would be if those past heroes were alive once more. How would his contemporaries react? • The merchant classes are too self absorbed to comprehend. • Their vision doesn’t extend beyond the “greasy till” in front of them. • They would dismiss the old patriots as • madmen, • bewitched by a beautiful woman (traditional metaphor for Ireland). • These patriots gave their very lives instinctively, without thought or consideration • “they weighed so lightly what they gave” • The final refrain reinforces the overall concept that the heroic ideals of the past are dead. • “let them be…” has a tone of finality, a gloomy resignation to the decadent reality of his time.

  8. Concluding comments • Pay close attention to the imagery. • Yeats uses this primarily to evoke disgust for the present and admiration for the past. • Use of repetition • The refrain • “Was it for this” • The building of the emotion • The overal tone of bitterness and disgust