The Indian to His Love and The Hosting of the Sidhe
The Aesthetic Movement, as exemplified by "The Indian to His Love," by W. B. Yeats, seems lifeless and insipid when compared to his "The Hosting of the Sidhe." The images of the two poems are so completely different that they almost demand a different set of rules dealing with their creation. It would be virtually impossible for Yeats to deal effectively with the subject matter of "The Hosting of the Sidhe" in the same manner as "The Indian to His Love" because he is viewing the world from a different perspective for each poem.
There is little relationship between the characters of "The Indian to His Love" and those of "The Hosting of the Sidhe." In the former, Yeats deals exclusively with mortals, idealized perhaps, but nonetheless mortals who must deal with the world as mortals: "Here we will moor our lovely ship/ And wander ever with woven hands," and. "How we alone of mortals are." These characters are not only mortals, but are anonymous in that they have no personal identities, and there is no representation of them as individuals. The lovers seem to decorate the scene much as the "peahens" and the "parrot." Yeats does, however, remind the readers of the characters' mortality even while he makes them seem timeless. "How when we die our shades will rove" tells clearly that those mortals may be in a dream, but even this dream is destined to end.
In "The Hosting of the Sidhe," in contrast to "The Indian and His Love," Yeats deals with the "faeries" or "little people" of Ireland: "The host is riding from Knocknarea" and "Coailte tossing his burning hair,/ And Niamh calling Away, come away." Here there are no insipid mortals, but beings and animals with names and emotions that are as immortal as they are:
Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound Our breasts are having, our eyes are agleam
These are descriptive, life-giving images, and Yeats chooses to portray his faeries as closer to reality than the mortals of "The Indian to His Love." Yeats obviously wants the reader to identify with the faeries and to feel their passion rather than just to observe them.
The settings of the two poems, like the characters, are totally different. In "The Indian to His Love," Yeats makes no attempt to inject realism into his setting:
The island dreams under the dawn
And great boughs drop tranquility:
The peahens dance on a smooth lawn,
A parrot sways upon a tree,
Raging at his own image in the enameled sea.
Clearly, this is a nameless imaginary island surrounded by imaginary seas. Yeats' descriptions are in flowery...