W.B. Yeats: Nationalistic Reflection in His Poetry
William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet, dramatist, and prose writer who was one of most influential poets of the Twentieth century. His talents were celebrated by scholars and activists and, in 1923, Yeats received the Nobel Prize for literature. Through his poetry, Yeats confronted the reality that felt was Oppression and Heartship for himself and his Irish brethren. Armed only with a pen, parchment, and a dissident tongue, Yeats helped to ignite the Powderkeg that was Ireland in the early twentieth century.
Yeats was born in Dublin, Ireland, In 1865. His father was a lawyer turned into a painter, and thus his son inherited the creative (and unconventional) genes. Most of Yeats’ childhood was spent in London, where he attended the Godolphin School. At age fifteen, he attended Erasmus Smich School, in Dublin, where he studied are for three years, concentrating devoutly on literature, finding his outlet for expressing his dissident sentiments towards British rule.
From the dawning of recorded history, it seems as though Ireland has been divided by a more powerful entity. Ireland, all and parts, at various times, was a colony governed by English rule. From the late middle-ages, it was a kingdom, under the same monarch as England, but a separate kingdom. In law and practice, however, the Irish government was usually subordinate to the English government. The saga continues; Ireland’s dispute in later years was not only pertaining to land ownership, but also religious freedom, as most English are Protestant, and most Irish are Roman Catholic. The conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism played a large part in the Seventeenth century to the present.
The Irish literary and dramatic movement, in general, rose, late in the nineteenth century, in direct response of the increasing resentment and frustration of the Irish people. The Land Agitation (or the struggle of the peasantry against their landlords) and the Young Ireland and Fenian Movements (or the struggle of the Irish people against English Rule) from the 1840’s had absorbed the energies and the talent of the Irish artisans of the time. Irish writers, having been taught by Swift, understand that command over written English equated a powerful weapon against their enemies.
Yeats dreamed of rekindling Irish pride by a movement unmistakably connected to Ireland's past achievement: it was to stir nationalistic idealism and contribute to the nonviolent accomplishment of political liberty (Saul).
Almost from the beginning of his poetic career, Yeats was recognized as one of the outstanding talents of his generation. Certainly everyone in Dublin was convinced that he was "a genius" when he was still in his early twenties. This fame placed him in a unique position to be politically influential through his work.
Politics were of interest to Yeats. Ireland had been in the midst of her political "troubles" since the famous Easter...