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"Easter 1916" By William Butler Yeats.

2311 words - 9 pages

Ireland has always been a country of instability. For six hundred years it has been occupied by English forces. For six hundred years, it has been divided at the hands of English implants. For six hundred years, the English presence has been threatening to decimate Irish cultural values. At the turn of the nineteenth century, a new movement to restore Irish heritage to the emerald isle was gaining momentum. It was a time of uncertainty. A new generation of Irish people was looking for an identity, and a new generation of artists was catering to them. They were embracing Irish culture and questioning the English presence on their island. Out of this cultural revival rose an unlikely hero. There rose a man, who, out of his own personal ambitions, became an inspiration to an entire people. William Butler Yeats became known as one of the greatest poet's in Irish history, and his writings inspired a nation revolution. One of his poems in particular, "Easter 1916," was used to embrace the Irish cause. There was, however, a delicate intricacy to "Easter 1916" that evaded most of its readers at the time. Although "Easter 1916" was seen as a decidedly nationalistic poem, it hid undertones that questioned the very roots of the nationalist cause.Yeats the ManTo understand his work, one must first understand Yeats himself. Over his life, Yeats was exposed to many political extremes that would later leave him searching for an identity. He was born in Dublin to parents of English-protestant descent, and he spentmost of his childhood far from Ireland in London (O'Brien 73). His parents strongly believed in British Rule of Ireland and they tried to pass those beliefs onto him ( Yeats's childhood was filled with social adversity: he was delicate physically, he was poor -sighted, awkward, and weak, and he had continuous scholastic difficulty. To escape the tedious struggles of reality, Yeats withdrew into fantasies of the heroic. He immersed himself in fairytales, adventure stories, and Celtic legends. He accumulated a knowledge of the arcane beyond that of most people (O'Brien 75). He loved romantic poetry and commanded a deep respect for the heroic bards of Ireland past. Unfortunately, modern Ireland looked to politicians, not bards for guidance. Yeats was trapped in his fantasy world. But instead of conforming to the mainstream, he looked for a way to be a man of action who could appeal to the very mundane and un-heroic crowd he despised.As a result of his own physical shortcomings, Yeats was continually bedeviled by the limitations of physical existence. However, he was enthralled with the possibility of superhuman transcendence, and he bemoaned all that would kill the heroic spirit, while celebrating all that would liberate it (Fleming 142). He thus became deeply interested in ancient Irish history. This interest fit in surpRisingly well with the new literary agenda in Ireland.In response to the growing call for a free Ireland under an Irish...

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