William Butler Yeats was a poet during the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. He was a brilliant poet. He had a way of making complex images, representing his philosophies regarding change and changeless, with words. He had a lot of unique ideas on philosophical topics such as these. “Yeats developed a philosophy that united his interest in history, art, personality, and society.” (1144). In the five poems written by Yeats, and compiled in our textbook, the opposition between radical change and changeless is illustrated very clearly.
In the poem, When You are Old, Yeats tells the intended reader, a woman, that his love for her won’t change, but hopefully, her feelings for him will change when she reads the poem. This poem is a love poem. It is slightly bitter, but a love poem, nonetheless. Yeats says that he loves the ambition and the thirst for adventure in her. “But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you.” (7). On this, I couldn’t agree more with Yeats. Yeats says that he loves her, but she doesn’t love him yet. He hopes that when something changes that, she will regret not taking the opportunity to be with the only man that truly loved her.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree is about the contrast between the constant change of the city and the extreme stability of nature. Yeats wants to go live in nature to get away from the constant change of the city. The phrase, “constant change” is quite the paradox, yet most change is constant, which proves that change and changelessness cannot be without each other. To get to a place of changelessness, he must make a drastic change. “I will arise and go now.” (9). This line sounds very spontaneous, which indicates a change. Yeats is going to make a change from changeless change to changelessness.
Yeats expresses in his poem, The Wild Swans at Coole, that the flock of swans seems ageless, while Yeats is getting continuously older. He goes to a lake every autumn to watch swans. Yeats is amazed that each year, the whole flock of swans seems to be exactly the same as the last year. Old swans die, and new swans are born. This...