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Sailing To Byzantium”: William Butler Yeats

1982 words - 8 pages

The enigmatic man, who is William Butler Yeats, has a life full of intense emotion and feeling that causes his experiences to be quite radical to say the least. His early childhood, interest in occults, and many encounters with questionable women truly shaped his lifetime of poetry in many ways. As well his poem “Sailing to Byzantium” had many complex themes, a central theme of time, and gave interesting views on art and experience. There were people of the poetry world that analyzed William Butler Yeats’ work and saw quite an interesting use of symbolism and a strikingly unique use of fantastical imagery. William Butler Yeats genuinely was a spiritualist poet.
The life of William Butler Yeats began when he was born into an honestly odd family dynamic. He was born in 1865 in Dublin to a once influential family (Yeats 2: 206). His parents were both of bygone influential status. They were never a rich family, but did their best to get by. John Butler Yeats, William’s father, was trained as a lawyer, but had always wished to be an artist and therefore put all of his ambition into being a painter (Yeats 2: 206). The family struggled because of financial hardship, as mentioned before, but William Butler Yeats saw his father’s ambition to fulfill his dreams as inspiration. Many of William Butler Yeats poems reflect a tangible need for culture to take the time to realize their dreams instead of staying with the status quo. This quality was also impressed upon him by his Irish mother who was deeply involved in the mysticism of faeries and astrology (Yeats 2: 206). Between his father’s freethinking artistic ways, and his mothers strong Irish background William Butler Yeats early childhood experiences influenced his writing greatly. Many of William Butler Yeats’ poems take on very dramatic and imaginative forms that were born from his early upbringing.
An obviously emotionally and spiritually led man, William Butler Yeats, was passionately involved in mysticism and occults. In 1887 William Butler Yeats took interest and joined Madame Helena Blavatsky's Theosophical Society (Persoon). This decision was influenced by his mother’s Irish nationalism which had motivated William Butler Yeats’ own intense nationalistic beliefs. This society was rooted in Irish mysticism and appealed to William Butler Yeats. His early poetry shows extreme Irish spiritualistic tendencies (Persoon). William Butler Yeats wanted to shape his own version of the Irish occultism founded in Irish myth and astrology. He found groups that believed in his ideals and became part of many different religious groups over the span of his lifetime. Another occult he became involved with was the Golden Dawn, which was committed to bringing a Celtic revival (Persoon). William Butler Yeats turned into more of a leader than a follower in this group. He managed to turn them all to follow his theory of universal history, which he writes about in a few of his poems. This behavior gives insight to...

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