The Second Coming lect -2

W. B. Yeats and His
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
An Irish poet, drew wisdom and inspiration
from the ancient culture of Ireland. In his later
years he found a metaphysical approach to
poetry and wrote on the great, eternal subjects
of time and change, love and age, life and art
(“The Wild Swans at Coole”). There is
profound beauty in his poetry.
Acknowledged as one of the greatest poets in the
English language, Yeats’s work covered 50 years.
He was deep-rooted in Irish culture with its folklore,
legends, music and magic, from which he draw
wisdom and inspiration and he wrote about the
traditions and history of the Irish nation. (He was
active in the Irish struggle for independence and the
founding of a national Irish theatre).
Born in Dublin influenced by the currents of
Irish nationalism
With a fellow Irishman Oscar Wilde he
organized the Rhymer’s club
In 1899 fell desperately in love with Maud
Gonne a beautiful actress and passionate Irish
nationalist who refused to marry him and she
is the subject of most of his love p
Yeats actively participated the movement but
disapprove the bloodshedding together with a
noble woman and playwriter found the Irish
National Theatre in Dublin When Ireland
finally won its true independence in 1922 he
was appointed a senator in the following year
he won the Nobel Prize of literature
His poetry was characterized by disillusion,
bitter satire, strong symbolism and the
combination of colloquial and formal language.
There is profound beauty in his poetry.
He wrote 26 plays and 11 volumes of poetry
but his reputation rests on his 50 years of
poetic career which falls roughly into 5 phases
of about one decade each.
The Three Periods of His Work
1.During the 1980’s he wrote chiefly in the
tradition of romanticism a leading member of
the Aesthetic movement
2. his second period was influenced by the
Irish nationalist movement and his passion of
Maud Gonne worked with the Irish National
Theatre attempting to develop an Irish cultural
revival to complement the political movement
 the second decade of the 20thc Yeats no
longer a romantic influenced by the modernist
4. the fourth period was the greatest of his p
career in his sixties he attained full maturity as
a realist-symbolist-metaphysical p with an
uncanny(离奇的) power over words and
symbols, summing up in his poems many of
his lifelong ideas.
His early poetry was marked by dreamy
romanticism with clarity, imagery and
musicality. In his later years he found a
metaphysical and French simplistic approach
to poetry and wrote on the great, eternal
subject of time and change, love and age, life
and art.
Yeats believed that all history, and life follows
a circular, spiral pattern consisting of long
cycles which repeat themselves over and over
on different levels, so symbols like winding
stairs, spinning tops, gyres and spirals are
frequent and important in his poems
Analysis of The Second Coming
See the textbook
What does “gyre” mean in this poem?
What does the line “things fall apart; the center
cannot hold” mean?
What do the “ a shape with lion body and the
head of a man” and the “rough beast” refer to?
At the beginning of the 21st c, what do you
think of this poem?
Yeats and Eliot had great influence upon
modern English literature. Their principles and
wiring practice were a revolt against the
imprecise language and sentimental emotions
of the Victorian poets. This revolt led to the
modernist movement in literature..
Three influences of modern poetry
1. Imagism
2. Metaphysical poets
3. French symbolist poetry
Main traits of modern poetry
1. Direct treatment of things
2. Freer metrical movement (these two from Imagism)
3. High degree of intellectual complexity
4. Symbolism
5. Close to conversation (colloquial, slang)
6. Irony and puns
7. International and urban themes
In summary
‘ the remarkable career of W.B.Yeats,
stretching across the whole modern period,
showed how a truly great p can at the same
time reflect the varying development of his age
and maitain an unmistakably individual
accent…. Yet he is always Yeats, unique and
inimitable—without doubt the great English
speaking p of his age.’ ---from Wang’s book