• 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...


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.


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.


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 ...

    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: These five lines are a clear reference to the apocalyptic writings of the New Testament of the Bible. According to Christian teachings, the second coming of Christ will be preceded by wars, bloodshed and anarchy.

  2. Language and Literature Assignment. Analyse 'The Stolen Child' By W.B Yeats.

    All of the end rhymes used are masculine rhymes. They are mainly made up of single syllable words where the nucleus and coda contain identical sounds. These strong rhymes reflect the strength and determination of the persuasive tone. This rhyme scheme also connects a pair of ideas together on a conflicting relationship with each other, similar to heroic couplets.

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

    The line hints at technology progressing beyond mankind's ability to control it showing that he is deteriorating. Yeats shows his concern that technology has advanced to the point where mankind can do a great deal of harm with relative ease.

  2. In 1936 Yeats wrote, "I too have tried to be modern". How does his ...

    Yeats says, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity."(7-8) This also suggests dissociation between the best, which Yeats identifies as head people, the intellectuals, and the worst, whom Yeats associates with the mass, are those who react with passionate intensity not with careful intellectual study and expression.

  1. Discuss with reference to at least three poems, Yeats' treatment of Irish Concerns.

    Yeats also gives them praise in this stanza "Enchanted to a stone", this means that integrity in this case was detached from the individual but resulted through being apart of a group. This poem is full of paradox. Yeats is unsure of which position to take; he praises the martyrs

  2. The Life And Poetry Of William Buttler Yeats

    O'Leary played a large role on getting Yeats's his work first published in The Dublin University Review and directing Yeats's attention to native Irish sources for inspiration. The influence of O'Leary caused Yeats to take up the Irish writer's cause.

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

    These two Irish armies were therefore waiting to fight for their country. Also, around the turn of the century, the English had tried to reduce the rights of Irish workers. The socialist and General Secretary of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, James Connolly, supported a rebellion by the workers.

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

    meet in a violent manner, produces something totally new. Whichever theme is taken into account, one aspect of the poem that should be appreciated is its uniqueness. From the first part of the poem, this poem has exhibited uniqueness, not only in differing from works of other poets, but also the work of Yeats himself.

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