How does Yeats present Freedom and Escapism in “the Stolen Child”?
“The Stolen Child” is a poem written based on the traditional Irish folklore of faeries known as changelings who would steal children away in their sleep so that the faeries can take their place. Yeats wrote this poem in 1886 where the hysteria was at its peak in Ireland. This poem contains many elements of freedom and escapism throughout however, there is an element of confinement and death underpinning the whole poem as there is something very sinister about the fact that kids are being taken away. These themes are seen in other of Yeats’s poems where he explores the idea of freedom but still sustains the idea of entrapment and despair.
Firstly, Yeats portrays the idea escapism through the ever present meaning of the children being enticed by the faeries. The faeries are seen to be convincing the child to leave the real world to join the fantasy world. This conveys the idea of the child wanting to escape the pain and suffering in the real world to join the more natural and perfect faery world. This is emphasised by the repetition of the line “Come away, O human child” portraying the idea of the child escaping reality to a better life. Additionally, the repetition throughout the whole poem is followed by the alteration in the last stanza to “Away with us he’s going” shows that escaping is inevitable no matter how hard you try to stop it. Moreover, the vivid description of nature in the fantasy world portrays the fact that nature is a way to escape reality. This is shown by the use of senses in the poem so that the reader can truly experience the nature as shown by “reddest stolen cherries”, “flapping herons” and “kettle on the hob”; these phrases spark sensory reactions from the reader so they can also sense what it means to be free from reality and be one with nature. Additionally, this makes the reader appreciate the natural beauty and makes them believe that they can escape anytime they want in the real world. Similarly, the idea of nature being a way to escape is seen “The Wild Swans at Coole” as Yeats visits the Park annually during autumn to free himself from the shackles of his age and remain young at heart. This is displayed by him describing his love for the swans as he states “Their hearts have not grown old”; it can be inferred as Yeats is seeing a reflection of him in the swans and feels that he hasn’t changed at all. Moreover, the fact that he sees himself in such “brilliant white” creatures can also be inferred to show that Yeats is becoming free from his own personality to a completely different one of innocence and beauty.