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'a Memorial Tribute To Yeats: An Exploration Of His Work Through The Application Of Critical Readings'

1814 words - 7 pages

William Butler Yeats has often been described as the greatest poet in the history of Ireland and probably the greatest poet to write in Great Britain during the 20th Century. His themes, symbols, images, metaphors and ability to evoke an emotional response were all directly influenced by his tremendous personal experiences, as well as, his nation's experience during one of its most turbulent times. Yeats' poetic vision was to embody his own life, including his thoughts, feelings, dreams, opinions and beliefs into poetry. His incredible literary illustrations took inspiration from Irish and Greek mythology, 19th Century occultism and spiritualism, English literature, Byzantine art, Christian imagery and European politics. These elements were then brought together and enhanced by Yeats' own experiences and interpretive understanding.The national poet of Ireland, Yeats was fiercely patriotic and loved his country dearly. He was also a prominent supporter in the development of an independent national identity within Ireland, a strong undercurrent to many of his poems.However, Yeats was strongly opposed to political action becoming militant, which is seen in many of his works, particularly those relating to the Easter Uprising of 1916 and the creation of the political martyr. In his poem "Easter 1916", Yeats addresses both the political and the socio-economic struggle for power within Ireland in the fight for independence and national identity. This "struggle" may be appreciated by the audience through the application of Marxism, which directly relates back to issues of political power within society."Easter 1916"The poem "Easter 1916" is based on the Easter Uprising of 1916 and focuses on the dramatic transformation of politics within Ireland, in particular the concept of a developing national identity and creation of a political martyr. Imagery is powerfully implemented within the poem, as is the use of colour and contrast. "... Grey eighteenth century houses..." here, the dominance of English culture in the construction of art and architecture is made clear. The background to the action of "Easter 1916" is depicted as grey, dull and featureless, which contrasts strongly with the use of "...vivid faces..." in description of the Irish people in the streets.One critical reading which can be applied to this part of the poem is Postcolonialism, which refers to the social and cultural effects that result when previously colonised countries and people reacquire their independence. One of the many effects of colonisation is that the indigenous people have new languages, laws, cultures and ways of thinking imposed on them. This is seen in Yeats' description of the houses where English architecture has infiltrated traditional architecture to create "grey eighteenth century houses" which reflect little of the traditional Irish culture. Here we can say that not only has Ireland been colonised by the English, but so too has the people's culture.The use of the...

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