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Yeats' "Easter 1916" Essay

1116 words - 4 pages

William Butler Yeats' "Easter 1916" is strong but not convincing to me. He is too harsh towards his county fellows. Doubtlessly, violence is awful. But before chide the Irish nationalists for using violence, one should put himself in their shoes and try to understand why they act so desperately. In the following I am going to examine the lines in Yeats' "Easter 1916" and see whether he does so, meanwhile I will compare it a bit with Seamus Heaney's "Requiem for the Croppies."In the poem, Yeats rebukes the violent Rebellion against Britain. He blames the oppressed colonized very much. He sighs repetitively that "a terrible beauty is born." He blames all the initials and all the actions, but he blames the British colonizer nothing. In fact, some of his lines are so hostile that I could not help suspecting he is firing personal attacks rather than talking about the Rebellion. Yeats thinks "that woman's days were spent/ In ignorant good-will" and "He might have won fame in the end" and "This other man I had dreamed/ A drunken, vainglorious lout." What's more, "He had done most bitter wrong/ To some who are near my heart." To tell the truth, I totally lose the point in this stanza. If the Rebellion was nothing but a fame-searching game of some nationalists as Yeats defines, would there be so many people joining in and sacrificing their life for it? Of course one can argue that maybe the people were blinded. But was it not because they could not tolerate the colonization, exploitation and oppression any more so they were "blinded" and decided to take a great risk to rebel? A rebellion won't be a rebellion, whether it is successful, if there are no people joining in it; however, in Yeats' poem, the Rebellion seems only to be a game of some ambitious politicians whom he personally hated very much.After accusing the rebels' motives, Yeats criticizes their mentalities. He says, "Hearts with one purpose alone… Enchanted to a stone" and "Too long a sacrifice/ Can make a stone of the heart." In other words, he thinks the Irish should be more gentle, merciful and open-minded. But isn't it too cruel to ask the oppressed to be kind, tolerant and forgiving to the oppressors? How about the English? Shouldn't they be gentle and compassionate towards the Irish and be aware what they were doing toward the latter? What's more, if the Irish hearts were hard, who maked them so? Who should take the blame? Didn't the Irish people want to live a happy and peaceful life as same as the English lived? Is a life without dignity a life? Can't people feel angry about being forced to live an undignified life? Reading his poem, I cannot convince myself that Yeats cares the life of the Irish at all!Yeats expresses his special viewpoint about life and death in the poem. He says, "Was it needless death after all? / For England may keep faith/ For all that is done and said." When I first see these lines, I cannot help but crying out "the enemy would not please is not a reason...

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