Analysis of William Butler Yeats' Poems

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Analysis of William Butler Yeats' Poems; When You Are Old, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, The Wild Swans at Coole, The Second Coming and Sailing to Byzantium

In many poems, short stories, plays, television shows and novels an author usually deals with a main idea in each of their works. A main reason they do this is due to the fact that they either have a strong belief in that very idea or it somehow correlates to an important piece of their life overall. For example the author Thomas Hardy likes to deal with the idea of loss in many different ways within his poems some being positive and some being negative. William Butler Yeats has a main philosophical idea which he sticks to and portrays in his poems he believes once you die you come back as another life form this would be rather than a linear view on life a spherical view on life. Just as Thomas Hardy deals with loss in his poems William Butler Yeats likes to play with the idea of change and changelessness. A critic by the name of Richard Ellmann explains that Yeats' poetry deals with opposition of both “the world of change”, and a world of “changelessness”. The idea of change or changelessness is in fact included in each of Yeat’s poems; When You Are Old, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, The Wild Swans at Coole, The Second Coming and Sailing to Byzantium.

To begin, When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats discusses the idea of change in life. In this poem Yeats is a bitter man angry about the way his woman would not marry him. He goes to say some harsh things in a lovey way and tends to get his point across. His poem begins by saying on page 1140 lines 1-2, “When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book,” Here Yeats disc...

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...nge. Here Yates confuses by stating that he doesn’t want to change, but as a human change is always at hand even after death.

In conclusion, Yeats enjoys the idea of change and changelessness within the world. Yates of course approaches the idea of change and changelessness differently in each of the poems. Some of the ways that the idea of change is used can be optimistic more like the poem of The Wild Swans at Coole and some are more pessimistic and quite an eye opener like the poem on The Second Coming or Sailing to Byzantium. Either way, the critic Richard Ellmann was correct in his statement discussed before.

Works Cited

When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats

The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats

The Wild Swans At Coole by William Butler Yeats

The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats

Sailing to Byzantium by William Butler Yeats
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