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Easter 1916

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I HAVE met them at close of day A Coming with vivid faces B From counter or desk among grey A Eighteenth-century houses. B I have passed with a nod of the head C Or polite meaningless words, D Or have lingered awhile and said C Polite meaningless words, D And thought before I had done A Of a mocking tale or a gibe B To please a companion A Around the fire at the club, B Being certain that they and I C But lived where motley is worn: D All changed, changed utterly: C A terrible beauty is born. D That woman's days were spent A In ignorant good-will, B Her nights in argument A Until her voice grew shrill. B What voice more sweet than hers C When, young and beautiful, D She rode to harriers? C This man had kept a school D And rode our winged horse; A This other his helper and friend B Was coming into his force; A He might have won fame in the end, B So sensitive his nature seemed, C So daring and sweet his thought. ...read more.


A For England may keep faith B For all that is done and said. C We know their dream; enough D To know they dreamed and are dead; C And what if excess of love D Bewildered them till they died? A I write it out in a verse - B MacDonagh and MacBride A And Connolly and Pearse B Now and in time to be, C Wherever green is worn, D Are changed, changed utterly: C A terrible beauty is born. D WHAT IS THE OCCASION? The speaker describes his ambivalent emotions regarding the events of the Easter Rising staged in Ireland against British rule on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916. WHO IS THE SPEAKER? An Irishman acquainted with revolutionaries of the Easter Rebellion of 1916 in Ireland. HOW DO THE PATTERNS WORK TOGETHER? The purpose of the poem is a memorial for the people who gave their lives on Easter Monday. Yeats begins in the first stanza by describing how he interacted with Dubliners prior to the rising. ...read more.


Yeats mentions how everything changes; the horse, the rider, the birds, the clouds, the shadows all change minute to minute, but the stone remains fixed and stationary through the change. This first line of the fourth stanza builds off of the third stanza's stone metaphor. The long struggle of the Irish has made them weary and their hearts turn to stone. He goes on to say only God knows when their sacrificing will suffice to accomplish their goals. Yeats believes all humans can do is memorialize the dead by saying their names, as a mother would a fallen child. The final stanza affirms that the rebels did not die in vain; that the dream they died for is stronger than it ever was when they were living. Yeats writes out "in a verse" four names of persons who were executed to honor and remember them, and to make sure their deaths surely were not in vain. They had born the terrible beauty of Irish patriotism and the Irish revolutionary spirit. They had changed their country, and themselves, forever. Easter, 1916 William Butler Yeats ...read more.

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