• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Poetry Analysis of W. H. Auden's "In Memory of W. B. Yeats"

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Poetry Analysis of W. H. Auden's "In Memory of W. B. Yeats" Being one of the greatest poet in the modern world and a major figure devoting to the Celtic Twilight, which is a trial and a "popular desire for a revival of Irish traditional culture" (Kelen 32), William Butler Yeats died in January, 1939. Meanwhile, it was only eight months before the outbreak of World War II and the whole Europe was on the edge of the war - there were revolutions within the Continent and people got scared and considered themselves in a war. In Wystan Hugh Auden's "In Memory of W. B. Yeats", Auden makes use of an elegy to state the fact of the death of a great poet and moreover, takes the readers to a wider political context focusing on the extent of effectiveness of poetry in time of tumult. In my view, Auden delicately divides the focus of the poem into two levels, the superficial level (the fact of Yeats' death) and the in-depth level (the effectiveness of the poetry in relation to the political context). The two levels are evenly distributed to the three sections of the poem so that even though different sections carry different meanings, they form cohesion. In the first section, Auden states the fact of Yeats' death on an intense cold day by making use of imagery such as the "frozen brooks" (line 2), the "deserted airports" (line 2) ...read more.

Middle

Poetry, in my view, has its own implication that exceeds its literal level of meanings. Louis Macneice argues in his book, The Poetry of W. B. Yeats, that "art [is] [certainly] [not] for art's sake" (18) as he believes that "a poet like W. H. Auden should reassert that a poem must be about something" (Macneice 18). He further comments that a poem is "more of a poem if it fulfils its business of corresponding to life" (Macneice 193). Personally, I agree with the statement as it is my belief that poetry cannot stand on its own as a form of literature - it always reflect the thought, intention, feelings, opinion and stand of the poets. For example, in Yeats' poem "A Coat", the poem cannot be just about "a coat" but also reflect the poet's disappointment about the "critic['s] misinterpretation of the poet's work" (Kelen 34). As poem is "more than a poem" if it has something related to the life of human beings, poetry should be capable of making something happen. Referring back to the poem, Auden, in the last two stanzas of the poem, stresses the value of poetry at critical time by showing the readers its power to transform despair into hope - through the nourishing of the "farming of a verse" (line 59), "a vineyard [can] [be] [made] [out] of the curse" (line 60). ...read more.

Conclusion

By "teach[ing] [him] how to praise" (line 66), Auden intends to give the message that it is through the spreading and singing of poetry can those people (who consider themselves 'free') know the way to respect their life, live a life to the full and celebrate the coming and completion of each day even though they are living in hardship. In fact, the last stanza serves as the same function like the description of transformation from "curse" into "vineyard", and from "distress" to "rapture" in the previous stanza. All the components from the two stanzas work well with each other to reinforce and put emphasis on Auden's point of the role of poetry as to inspire people at time of distress. In conclusion, Macneice comments that "Yeats did not write primarily in order to influence men's actions but he knew that art can alter a man's outlook and so indirectly affect his actions" (192). I agree with this statement as we can see from this poem Auden's stand on the value of Yeats' poetry - although the situation in Ireland remained constant despite Yeats' devotion to Irish poetry, Auden believes that poetry, including that of Yeats', is capable of transforming the mental and spiritual outlook of human beings so that when they are hopeful and passionate for their life and future, they act more positively and contribute to a world with peace and hope. This is the time when poetry really makes a difference to the world. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level W.B. Yeats section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level W.B. Yeats essays

  1. William Butler Yeats' poem "The Second Coming" is filled with metaphoric imagery that reflects ...

    While the beast does fit in with the apocalyptic theme, it is another metaphor of the conflict between England and Ireland. Those reading Yeats at the time of his writing would be likely to draw a connections to a poem of similar apocalyptic nature written by Rossetti around the same period titled "The Burden of Ninevah."

  2. Examine three poems by Auden and Yeats and compare how they present the struggle ...

    Stanzas two and three examine the subject of life and death. This is shown by an image of "A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul claps its hand and sings". "A tattered coat upon a stick" evokes a delicate figure, which shows a weak exterior that will not overcome the soul and imagination, which is only growing stronger.

  1. How effective is W.B Yeats in cautioning the modern reader on the melancholic, the ...

    of passion and destruction that were ravaging the world during the very time he was writing this poem. Such is his prayer for his daughter: that she learns to survive with grace and dignity in a world turning horrific. He also expresses his views when he says that the heart should be earned.

  2. Irish Ports - Political concerns.

    the ports themselves and to introduce bigger and more efficient ferries and freighters as well as re-furbishing the older serving models. Economic, Due to the opening of the Channel Tunnel, Ireland has become the only member of the European Union (E.U)

  1. Love is a common theme in poetry and it has been written about for ...

    This can explain then, the uncertainty of the writer and also explain his feelings and situation. He is trying to bring across his true feelings but the negative aspects and tone of the poem is making him unsure. The words, "Gift and "Riches" give reference to money.

  2. Commentary on Leda and The Swan by Raja H R Bobbili.

    refers to the next chronological stage - the end of the modern era. Therefore, I would predict that "The Second Coming" is a continuation of this poem. Furthermore, the structure of the poem enlightens this change in era. "Leda and The Swan" is a 14-line sonnet in regular iambic pentameter.

  1. 1881 Yeats and "The Countess Cathleen".

    to be present in order to guard against interruption from students in the gallery; an action which displeased his nationalist admirers. Despite difficulties and attempts at censorship, the Countess Cathleen was, in the end, performed at the ancient concert rooms.

  2. To What Extent Was the Failure of the Easter Rising Due To Internal Divisions?

    to be free of alien rule.3 Several events laid the building blocks for the Easter Rising of 1916, all of which had bearing on what would take place. Firstly, the centuries of national oppression by British landlords and increasing capitalism had led to the formation, in a Dublin timber yard, of the Irish Republican Brotherhood or I.R.B.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work