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W.B Yeat's Essay

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Joanne Klados I believe that William Butler Yeats shows while desire is a destructive force, human experience will never be reached without it. This memorable idea has been influenced by the principles of Romanticism and is most evident in the poetic techniques used in "The Wild Swans at Coole", "The Second Coming" and "Leda and the Swan". or (worded differently) William Butler Yeats was deeply troubled by the Anglo-Irish conflict and influenced by the principles of Romanticism, and I believe that it is these concerns shape the memorable idea that while desire is a destructive force, human experience will never be reached with it. "The Wild Swans at Coole", "The Second Coming" and "Leda and the Swan", all explore Modern anxieties about the state of the contemporary world through the use of poetic techniques. "The Wild Swans at Coole" adheres to the highly structured and rhyming nature of the Victorian style which Yeats commonly employs, rejecting the modernistic styles of his time. Referring to Yeats' Book A Vision, Yeats' refers to desire as ' the image of what we wish to become.' In this poem Yeats' reflects upon his romantic conquests and dreams from the viewpoint of an ageing man, about the desire for things that he wanted, but, in most cases, they were things he could never have. ...read more.


Yeats reveals his own concerns, stemming from the unremitting violence of World War 1, revolution and unrest in Europe and civil war within his own country. This transition from one era to another, according to Yeats is to prove destructive as evident in the poem's subsequent images. Yeats uses the symbol of a falconer to emphasise that the modern world is spinning out of control in, 'The falcon cannot hear the falconer'. The falcon symbolically represents civil control,exerted over the falcon which is civilisation itself. the effect of this is to heighten the sense that the twentieth century world, with its widespread political unrest is collapsing inwardly. In these images we can clearly see Modernist fears about the self destructive state of the world. R.F. Foster states, "The second coming: Ireland still lives in the shadow of W B Yeats. At times, the shadow darkens and changes its shape, but it is never absent, because his search for freedom and soaring autonomy makes him our contemporary." To Yeats, a war that is violent just for the sake of selfish desires will have no effect on the greater good for Ireland and will just destroy what greatness Ireland has left . ...read more.


If we identify with Leda we feel pinned. We can feel the tension between terror and violence on the one hand and yielding swoon on the other. Some critics say that Leda is swept away by passion as that she moves from terror of the unknown to passionate acceptance, but the use of rhetorical questions, 'how can...' she push him away? and 'how can body' help feel the strange heart', show her as a victim without choice and that the desire of the swan led to the rape of Leda. There is sympathy here and a feeling of awe as the staggering girl is swept up by 'the feathered glory.' We are aware of her violation as well as the strange knowledge she may have felt. The broken wall and burring roof suggest the war torn city of Troy. The towers destruction indicates the collapse of a civilisation, and while desire is a destructive force, human potential will never be reached without it. Yeats' "The Wild Swans at Coole", "The Second Coming" and "Leda and the Swan" use the techniques of poetry to explore, albeit in different ways and with different focuses, the memorable idea while desire is a destructive force, human potential will never be reached without it. Word Count: Approx. 1200 ...read more.

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