Past, passing, or to Come (An analysis of the stability and change shown throughout Yeats’ poetry)

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Throughout life, it is very apparent that things don’t always stay the same. It is also true to say that certain places, people, or things never change. The matter of change and stability can not only alter your life, but emotions too. Some people hate the same things happening over and over again and thrive for change. On the other hand, instability only causes problems for some people. This concept is also discussed greatly in the world of poetry, especially in that of Yeats. Critic Richard Ellmann wrote that Yeat’s poetry is in fact about the opposition between “the world of change” and the world of “changelessness”. This analysis is very relevant. In Yeats’ poems: “When you are Old”, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, “The Wild Swans at Coole”, “The Second Coming”, and “Sailing to Byzantium” all show the struggle and opposition between change and stability in the world. First of all, throughout the poem “When you are Old” by William Yeats, you can begin to analyze the change and changelessness that he is experiencing in his life. This particular poem is written directly to a woman that he once loved, but she didn’t quite return as great of feelings. Yeats states that this writing is for to specifically read when she is old and gray. He explains that most men only loved her falsely for her beauty, but he loved her soul, “But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face.” (Lines 7-8) This means that he didn’t only care about her appearance and continued to love her no matter how time changed her. He also makes the point that because she didn’t welcome love when she had the chance, the opportunity to have a lover has now fled and she’ll stay alone into her older years. This particular poem focus... ... middle of paper ... ... man in the poem though specifically says, “Once out of nature I shall never take my bodily form from any natural thing,” (Lines 25-26) meaning that he doesn’t want to come back as something alive because they always die. Instead, he wants to come back as a piece of art or a “monument of un-changing intellect”. All in all, Yeat’s poems: “When you are Old”, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, “The Wild Swans at Coole”, “The Second Coming”, and “Sailing to Byzantium” all show the struggle and opposition between change and stability in the world. Yeats uses imagery, language, and ideas to represent change and changelessness just like the critic, Richard Ellmann, said. Yeats’ philosophy on the conflict of opposites by using gyres shows us how different forces struggle against one another, just like the development of a personality or the rise and fall of a new civilization.

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