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How is the theme of change represented in "Wild Swans at Coole"?

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Introduction

??The nineteenth autumn has come upon me Since I first made my count?? Discuss the ways in which Yeats presents change in ?Wild Swans at Coole?. Yeats presents the theme of change in ?Wild Swans at Coole? as he (as the persona in the poem) watches the swans and contrasts that while everything in his life has changed, the swans remain the same as they always have been. Yeats writes ??the nineteenth autumn has come upon me Since I first made my count?, to show the reader that nineteen years have passed since Yeats first came to the water and watched the swans. Coole was owned by Yeats? friend Lady Gregory, so was a place Yeats went to reflect. The lake allows the persona to ponder and dwell on his loneliness, as he is still without a partner. The ?autumn? gives the reader the idea of seasons, and autumn being a particular time in the year important to Yeats. Being a season, it also introduces the idea of cycles of the year: Yeats has shown in other poems like The Second Coming that the passing of time and cycles were significant to him. Nineteen years is a long amount of time, and the poem being published in 1917 shows that in the nineteen years of his life prior to the poem, a lot had happened- the first world war, the civil war and (perhaps the main focus of this poem) ...read more.

Middle

By being a season of decay and trees shedding leaves, it allows Yeats to immediately show the idea of change in the poem to be important. However it doesn?t necessarily show this to be a bad thing to start with, as ?beauty? would imply Yeats likes the season. ?October twilight? presents the idea of things at a beginning or an end, as it could either be seen as the time after sunset, or before dawn. ?Mirrors a still sky? presents the idea of clarity and tranquillity, as does ?brimming water.? By ending the stanza with ?nine-and-fifty swans?, it emphasises that the odd number means one swan must be without a mate. Swans are used as a symbol of purity and love within this poem. Yeats had a particular interest in swans, as he?s also used them in other poems like Leda and the Swan. The swans are important in this poem as Yeats uses them as the constant thing within the poem. Yeats could have been drawing parallels to him being the odd swan, as he feels lonely without a partner; at the time of writing this poem his last hopes of marrying Maud Gonne had just been shattered by her rejection. Yeats writes ?my heart is sore? showing this. The swans taking flight is shown to be a striking occurrence, one that?s clearly stayed with Yeats over the years. ...read more.

Conclusion

?Hearts have not grown cold? also forms a strong contrast with ?and now my heart is sore?, showing the differences between the swans and Yeats. The last stanza Yeats shows a depressed kind of acceptance. He takes the tone back to the serenity of the first stanza, presenting his readers with ?still water?, connoting to be calm. Yeats shows to accept the changes in his life and accepts that the swans will not be there forever, even if they are his symbol of something constant within a constantly changing life. By writing ?when I awake some day To find they have flown away??, Yeats is admitting to himself that one day he will awake and the swans will be gone. Posing it as a question to his audience also engages the reader to think, and perhaps is Yeats wishing to create a sympathy for himself as he ends on a note of sadness. In conclusion, Yeats presents the idea of change in his poem through many different ways. He uses the setting and a memory to show his awareness that he is getting old, and that things have changed. He uses imagery of seasons to show this, as well as an in and out of control rhyme scheme. Yeats creates a dejected tone throughout and uses a regular form to allow him to show constant change. ...read more.

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