William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)



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William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

  • “The greatest poet of our time, certainly the greatest poet in this language, and, so far as I can tell, in any language.”
  • ~T.S. Eliot

Biographical Fallacy

  • When we discuss Yeats' poetry, we must be very careful to avoid biographical fallacy
    • Definition: a term used in cultural criticism to critique the view that works of creative art, literature or music can be interpreted as reflections of the life of their authors.
  • That said, a knowledge of how political and personal forces shaped the worldview of any artist can provide historical context, which is often necessary in the search for deep meaning with their art.
  • In your IOC, you’ll avoid biographical fallacy by differentiating between the author and the speaker of the poem

A Family of Artists

  • William Butler Yeats was born on June 13, 1865 in Dublin.
  • His father was a lawyer of sorts who turned Pre-Raphaelite painter.
  • In 1867 the family followed him to London and settled in Bedford Park.
  • In 1881 (Yeats = 16) they returned to Dublin, where Yeats studied at the Metropolitan School of Art.

Father, Son, and Brother

  • A portrait of W.B. Yeats (painted by his father)
  • A painting by Jack B Yeats
  • (W.B. Yeats’s brother)

Identity Crisis—or—Contrasts and Balance

  • While Yeats was born in Ireland’s East, some of his early days and later family jaunts were spent in Sligo, a western city he sees as his home.
  • While he is part of the Protestant Ascendancy, he and his family support the Irish Nationalist movements.
  • Sligo
  • London
  • Dublin
  • Coole Park

The Lake Isle of Innisfree Sligo, Ireland

Changing Interests

  • As a student at the Metropolitan School of Art, Yeats was uninspired.
  • While there he met the poet, dramatist, and painter George Russell (1867-1935).
  • Russell was interested in mysticism, and his search inspired Yeats to explore reincarnation, the supernatural, and “Oriental mysticism.”

A Writer is Born

  • Yeats made his literary debut in 1885, when his first poems were published in The Dublin University Review.
  • In 1887, the family returned to Bedford Park (London), and Yeats devoted himself to writing the poetry that would fill his first few volumes.

Maud Gonne

  • Yeats met the love of his life, Maud Gonne, in 1889.
  • She was an actress who was financially independent
  • She was also an Irish revolutionary who became a major figure in Yeats’s life and work.
  • Yeats wrote poetry for her, asked her to marry him multiple times, and many biographers claim he worshipped her.
  • When she married another in 1903, Yeats wrote “No Second Troy.”

Maud Gonne (left) and Georgiana Hyde-Lees

A Different Agenda

  • Maud Gonne influenced Yeats to join the revolutionary organization the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
  • By 1896 Yeats began work reforming the Irish Literary Society, and then the National Literary Society in Dublin, which aimed to promote the New Irish Library.

Lady Gregory And the Abbey Theater

  • In 1897, Yeats met Lady Gregory. Yeats, Gregory, Synge, and others founded the Irish Literary Theatre.
  • Lady Gregory
  • J.M. Synge
  • The Old Abbey Theater

Thoor Ballyle

  • In early 1917, Yeats bought Thoor Ballyle, a derelict Norman stone tower near Coole Park.
  • After restoring it, the tower became his summer home and a central symbol in his later poetry.
  • In 1917 he married Georgie Hyde-Lees.

Yeats is buried in Sligo

Poetic Oral Commentary Rubric

  • A: Knowledge and Understanding of Poem
  • -How well is the student’s knowledge and understanding of the poem demonstrated by their interpretation?
    • There is excellent knowledge and understanding, demonstrated by individual interpretation effectively supported by precise and well-chosen references to the poem
  • B: Appreciation of the Writer’s Choices
  • To what extent does the student appreciate how the writer’s choice of language, structure, technique and style shape meaning?
    • There is excellent appreciation of the ways in which language, structure, technique and style shape meaning in the poem.
  • C: Organization and Presentation of the Commentary
  • To what extent does the student deliver a structured, well-focused commentary?
    • The commentary is effectively structured, with a clear, purposeful and sustained focus.

Phases of Yeats’ Style

  • Post-Romantic Romantic
  • British Symbolist/ Modernist

Characteristics of Romantic Lit-- Romantic Poetry Conveys Emotion Through:

  • Yearning for ideal states of being
    • deep personal earnestness
    • nostalgia for the classical past
    • interest in mysterious and mystical experiences
  • Sensuous delight in the common and exotic
  • Structured formality and rhyme scheme
  • A blend of intensely felt joy and dejection
  • Celebrates the individual and individual rights and freedoms
    • Shows strong concern for society and politics and the freedoms of mankind
  • Liberates the unconscious
    • Speaking innermost thoughts freely

Metrical Feet Patterns

  • Along with the iamb, there are other possible patterns:
  • Pattern Noun Adjective
  • ~ / iamb iambic
  • ~ ~ / anapest anapestic
  • / ~ trochee trochaic
  • / ~ ~ dactyl dactylic
  • / / spondee spondaic
  • We describe a poetic line, then, by its type and number of poetic feet. For example:
  • 5 iambs = iambic pentameter
  • 4 trochees = trochaic tetrameter

Poetic Meter

  • These terms show number of stresses or feet to a line:
  • One stress (foot) per line = mono + meter = monometer
  • Two = di + meter = dimeter
  • Three = tri + meter = trimeter
  • Four = tetra + meter = tetrameter
  • Five = penta + meter = pentameter
  • Six = hex + a + meter = hexameter
  • Seven = hept + a + meter = heptameter
  • Eight = oct + a + meter = octameter

Poetry CR Stamping “To Ireland in the Coming Times” 1893

  • Take out the poetry critical read and Dominant Effect statement you did for homework last night
    • I’ll check your work
    • You’ll share what you wrote about with your table group

“To Ireland in the Coming Times” 1893

  • Political Yeats:
    • Yeats =Ireland’s Shakespeare, a writer who delved into the Ireland of his time, which happened to be a vital era of nation-building during which Ireland’s modern identity was being forged.
      • Like Shakespeare, he bequeathed us a rich trove of memorable lines and precious insights. Moreover, Yeats’s work – his history poems - brings Ireland’s past to life, doing for Ireland what Shakespeare does for England in his history plays.
    • Yeats=a powerful, perceptive interpreter of that seminal period, not just for Ireland, but for the connected history of GB and Ireland.

“To Ireland in the Coming Times” 1893

  • This poem was written in the early 1890s at a time when Yeats was actively engaged in an extended struggle to create an Irish national literature in the English language.
    • In this poem, Yeats creates a speaker who insists on combining his efforts to ‘sweeten Ireland's wrong’ with the highest aesthetic standards.
    • The ‘political’ side of his identity was always subordinate to what he saw as his stringent responsibilities as a writer.
  • There was also the question of the language in which Irish literature ought to be written.
    • As someone who never tried to master the Irish language, Yeats naturally insisted that the distinctive Irish insights derived from our mythology and folk memory could be expressed in English.
    • There were those who contested this view; some derided Yeats’s work as a manifestation of what he described as 'the English mind in Ireland.'

“To Ireland in the Coming Times” 1893

  • Analyze the title
  • Paraphrase each stanza
  • Analyze Yeats’ use of language:
    • Speaker(s), POV, dominant literary devices, allusions, motifs, style, etc.
  • Sound devices:
    • Rhythm/pace, rhyme, assonance, etc.
  • Analyze shifts in mood and tone, and how that is reflected in the poem’s structure and punctuation
  • Determine the poem’s dominant themes
  • Write a dominant effect statement for the poem

“To Ireland in the Coming Times”

  • The Tudor period is the period between 1485 and 1603 in England and Wales.
    • Four sovereigns: Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I
    • A dominant theme of Tudor history was the Reformation, the transformation of England from Catholicism to Protestantism. 
      • Henry replaced the pope as the head of the Church of England but maintained Catholic doctrines
      • Edward imposed a very strict Protestantism
      • Mary attempted to reinstate Catholicism, and
      • Elizabeth arrived at the (mostly) Protestant Church of England, but sent Protestants over to Ireland to fortify the Protestant population at the time

“To Ireland in the Coming Times” 1893

  • Allusions: Shout outs to Yeats’ literary heroes
  • Thomas Davis created the culture of modern Irish nationalism
  • James Mangan was an Irish political poet
  • Samuel Ferguson was an Irish barrister and poet

“To Ireland in the Coming Times” 1893

  • druid was a member of the educated, professional class among the Celtic peoples of Gaul, the British isles, and possibly elsewhere during the Iron Age (1200-600 BCE).
  • The druid class included law-speakers, poets and doctors, among other learned professions, although the best known among the druids were the religious leaders.
  • Druids play a prominent role in Irish Folklore, generally serving lords and kings as high ranking priest-counselors with the gift of Prophecy and other assorted mystical abilities.

Objective: Activate Prior Knowledge In your table groups, discuss:

  • Define “romantic.”
  • (There are many ways to do so.)

Romantic (adj.)

  • 1: consisting of or resembling a romance
  • 2: having no basis in fact : IMAGINARY
  • 3: impractical in conception or plan : VISIONARY
  • 4a : marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized
  • 4b often capitalized : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of romanticism
  • 4c : of or relating to music of the 19th century characterized by an emphasis on subjective emotional qualities and freedom of form; also : of or relating to a artist of this era
  • 5 a : having an inclination for romance : responsive to the appeal of what is idealized, heroic, or adventurous
  • b : marked by expressions of love or affection
  • c : conducive to or suitable for lovemaking
  • 6 : of, relating to, or constituting the part of the hero especially in a light comedy

“September 1913”

  • The poem first appeared in The Irish Times on the 9.8.1913
  • Yeats's engagement with nationalist Ireland had reached its peak in the early years of the 20th century, and he published many plays during this era.
  • By about 1910, it began to dawn on Yeats that not everyone shared his own idiosyncratic, romantic vision of what Ireland ought to be.
  • Yeats had to face the unpleasant prospect that ‘the intellectual movement’ he had striven to build might end in failure, fallen prey to machinations of less creative, but no less determined, minds.
  • These disappointments prompted Yeats to proclaim the death of Romantic Ireland, unceremoniously interred with his mentor, John O'Leary.

“September 1913”

  • John O'Leary:
    • Wanted complete Irish independence from Britain.
    • Not a republican; a constitutional monarchist. 
    • He believed in physical force, but was opposed to individual acts of violence.
    • He was a secularist who felt the Church should stay out of politics.
    • He was not interested in the Irish language despite his sympathy to the Gaelic revival.

“September 1913”

  • John O'Leary: an Irish separatist whose politics focused on getting the greatest good for Ireland.
  • Which lines in the poem show that Yeats admires O’Leary’s ubiquitous vision and wishes for a return to the less egotistical politics of a bygone era?

British Romantics Yeats Admired

  • Percy Shelley
  • 8/1792 - 7/1822
  • Poet- called “Mad Shelley”
    • 2nd Marriage was to Mary, author of Frankenstein
  • Expelled from Oxford for
  • being an atheist
  • William Blake
  • 11/1757 – 8/1827
  • Largely unrecognized during his lifetime
  • Out of tune with the "normal" world: a poverty stricken artist who talked to angels
  • Poet and Painter

Objective: Activate Prior Knowledge In your table groups, discuss:

  • Share all the historical people you found in this poem.
  • Did you research them? If so, who are they?
  • If not, why not? #depth

“September 1913”

  • Influences on Yeats in “September 1913”:
    • The use of language shows Yeats’ reverence for the literary traditions of the 19th century British Romantic poets. 
    • Ideologically, O'Leary's influence on Yeats enables the poet to also inherit the nationalistic vision of O'Leary.
  • As a result:
    • Yeats transforms the romantic idealism found in Blake and Shelley into a fundamentally Irish concept
    • Yeats's deep Irish heritage becomes Romantic in every sense of the word.
    • “September 1913" thus ironically illustrates that ‘Romantic Ireland’ is not dead after all; rather, it lives on in the remarkable voice uttering the poem, the voice of O'Leary's greatest disciple

“September 1913”

“September 1913” Small-Group Spiderweb Discussion

  • Analyze the title
  • Paraphrase each stanza
  • Analyze Yeats’ use of language:
    • Speaker(s), POV, dominant literary devices, allusions, motifs, style, etc.
  • Sound devices:
    • Rhythm/pace, rhyme, assonance, etc.
  • Analyze shifts in mood and tone, and how that is reflected in the poem’s structure and punctuation
  • Determine the poem’s dominant themes
  • Write a group dominant effect statement for the poem on a notecard, including everyone’s first and last names who contributed significantly to discussion and writing.

“Three Movements” 1932

  • SHAKESPEREAN fish swam the sea, far away
  • from land;
  • Romantic fish swam in nets coming to the hand;
  • Where are all those fish that lie gasping on the
  • strand?

Who is Yeats? To what extent did his life affect his poetry? (1865-1939)

  • Nobel Prize for Literature: 1923

Yeats’ Ireland: Profound Transformation

  • Between the late 1880s and the 1930s, there was scarcely a significant Irish public event or movement in which Yeats did not have an involvement, or about which he did not have an opinion.
    • He wanted an Irish literary revival, in English
  • Yeats excelled and is known for being a poetic chronicler of those decisive years for Ireland.
    • His interpretation of the Ireland of his time should not be taken at face value for, of course, he had a partial and, at times, partisan view of things.
  • Yeats wants his readers to expand beyond the historical confines of “Irish” identity, and instead connect to a wider scope of identity in humanity itself. 

Getting Personal and Writing Much

  • Yeats’s later work is more personal and his subjects include his children and the experience of growing old.
  • Many suggest his greatest poetry is written late in his life.

Yeats’ Ireland: Profound Transformation

  • By the time of his death in 1939, Ireland had experienced a war of independence and a civil war, events that featured in, and influenced, his poetry.
  • Yeats witnessed the emergence of the Irish Free State, in which he served as a Senator, and the consolidation, in trying circumstances, of Irish independence during the 1920s and 1930s.

Yeats Overview

  • First: Yeats the Irish Activist:
    • Important member of the Abbey theater group, Gaelic Revival, and Celtic Twilight.
  • Later: Yeats rejects most political causes to follow a more aesthetic and philosophical artistic path.
  • All his poems touch on desire for Irish Identity, Irish Mythology, Culture, and Irish Politics.

“The Second Coming” 1920 Titular Allusions

“The Second Coming” 1920

  • Spiritus Mundi: a Latin term that literally means ‘world spirit.’
    • Sort of like a collective unconscious mind for the whole world
    • In Spiritus Mundi, there is, according to William Butler Yeats: “a universal memory and a ‘muse’ of sorts that provides inspiration to the poet or writer.”
  • Sphinx: a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion.
    • Characterized as treacherous and merciless.
    • Those who cannot answer its riddle are killed and eaten by this ravenous monster.

“The Second Coming” 1920

  • Gyre:
    • a recurring symbol in Yeats’s poetry:
      • Yeats wrote a poem called “The Gyres” in The Tower
    • Symbolizes the alternation between two historical cycles: one characterized by order and growth, the other by chaos and decay. #yinandyang

“The Second Coming” 1920

  • Analyze the title
  • Paraphrase each stanza
  • Analyze Yeats’ use of language:
    • Speaker(s), POV, dominant literary conventions, allusions, motifs, style, etc.
  • Sound devices:
    • Rhythm/pace, rhyme, assonance, etc.
  • Analyze shifts in mood and tone, and how that is reflected in the poem’s structure and punctuation
  • Determine the poem’s dominant themes
  • Write a dominant effect statement for the poem

“Sailing to Byzantium” 1927

“Sailing to Byzantium” 1927

  • Byzantium: an ancient Greek colony on the site that later became Constantinople—and later still Istanbul—colonized c. 657 B.C.E.
  • Ottava Rima:
    • eight iambic lines, usually iambic pentameter
    • a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c 
      • Originally used for long poems on heroic themes
      • Earliest known use is in the writings of 14th century Italian poet Giovanni Boccaccio
        • “The Decameron”—the Human Comedy

Byzantium

Imperfect Rhyme

  • A rhyme in which there is only a partial matching of sounds
    • Ex: love and move 
    • Typically either the vowel segments are different while the consonants are identical, or vice versa.
  • AKA:
  • Half rhyme 
  • Near rhyme 
  • Lazy rhyme 
  • Slant rhyme

Perne (19): Oxford English Dictionary

  • ‘Perne’ is an alternate Gaelic spelling of ‘pirn.’
  • PIRN: noun and verb. (As noun also ‘pern;’ Late Middle English)
    • noun:
      • 1. a small cylinder on which thread, etc. is wound; a bobbin, a spool, a reel; this wound with thread, etc.
      • 2. Thread wound on a bobbin, etc. ‘rare.’ Early 18th century.
    • verb: Wind or reel (thread, etc.) on a bobbin, etc. Scottish. Early 19th century. 

“Sailing to Byzantium” 1927

  • Written in 1926 when Yeats was 60 or 61
  • From a BBC Interview:
    • “I am trying to write about the state of my soul, for it is right for an old man to make his soul, and some of my thoughts about that subject I have put into a poem called “Sailing to Byzantium.” When Irishmen were illuminating the Book of Kells, and making the jeweled croziers in the National Museum, Byzantium was the centre of European civilization and the source of its spiritual philosophy, so I symbolize the search for the spiritual life by a journey to that city.”

“Sailing to Byzantium” 1927

  • Analyze the title
  • Paraphrase each stanza
  • Analyze Yeats’ use of language:
    • Speaker(s), POV, dominant literary conventions, allusions, motifs, style, etc.
  • Sound devices:
    • Rhythm/pace, rhyme, assonance, etc.
  • Analyze shifts in mood and tone, and how that is reflected in the poem’s structure and punctuation
  • Determine the poem’s dominant themes
  • Write a dominant effect statement for the poem

Poetry Paper Preparation

  • You are invited to write a literary commentary essay arguing the effect of dominant literary conventions in your assigned William Butler Yeats poem.
    • “To Ireland in the Coming Times”
    • “September 1913”
    • “The Second Coming”
    • “Sailing to Byzantium”

Poetry Paper Details Formal requirements:

  • Length 1,000–1,200 words. If the limit is exceeded, assessment will be based on the first 1,200 words.
  • Submission The final essay will be submitted for assessment to turnitin.com by Monday, 11/20 @ 8AM. No written copy will be submitted. The essay should be a well-presented, formal piece of work.
  • Assessment The final essay is awarded a mark out of 20 using assessment criteria A, B, C, and F on the IOC Rubric.

Poetry Paper Details Formal requirements:

  • Calendar:
    • Tuesday, 11/7: Poem Selection and Commentary Practice
    • Wednesday, 11/8: Full-class work period for Yeats commentary paper
    • Monday, 11/20 @ 8AM: Yeats commentary paper due to turnitin.com

15-minute Commentary Preparation Time

  • Read the poem and the guiding questions carefully.
  • Color mark/Underline key words/phrases and aspects you think are most interesting or about which you can talk most convincingly
  • Formulate your Dominant Effect
  • Identify your 2-3 aspects/themes you want to discuss. Write a brief summary of each
  • Mark up the text so you know which points you’ll use to discuss your aspects/themes.
  • Decide on the best sequence to speak about your points. Linear or conceptual?
  • Make sure your notes are clear to you.
  • Spend any extra time rehearsing/practicing

Poetry Paper Preparation

  • Commentary Practice:
    • Spend fifteen minutes developing an eight-minute commentary for your assigned poem
    • Deliver your poetic commentary to a partner

Commentary Introduction (~1 minute)

  • State your candidate number at the start (I’ll have it for you.)
  • Identify the poem, summarize it, and put it in context
  • State your dominant effect
  • If you wish, outline what you plan to cover
  • This introduction should not take more than 1 minute

Commentary Body (~6 minutes)

  • Discuss the writer’s choices of particular literary features
  • The real credit comes from recognizing HOW and WHY you think the writer uses them
  • Point, evidence, analysis = Identify a feature. Quote the key words. Analyze how the technique works.
  • You should be prepared with 3-4 points for each aspect/theme/important feature you want to discuss
  • Aim for each aspect/theme/feature to take 2-3 minutes to explore

Commentary Conclusion (~1 minute)

  • The conclusion may be brief
  • You need to draw your commentary to a recognizable end and finish off effectively
  • Maybe:
    • look at the way the poem ends and Yeats’ choice of language there OR
    • state what you think is the most important element of the poem OR
    • comment on the main way the poem influences the reader OR summarize how it fits into the rest of his work
  • Key is to sound focused and assured

Poetry Paper Preparation

  • Analyze the title
  • Paraphrase each stanza
  • Analyze Yeats’ use of language:
    • Speaker(s), POV, dominant literary conventions, allusions, motifs, style, etc.
  • Sound devices:
    • Rhythm/pace, rhyme, assonance, etc.
  • Analyze shifts in mood and tone, and how that is reflected in the poem’s structure and punctuation
  • Determine the poem’s dominant themes
  • Write a dominant effect statement for the poem

Yeats Phase II: Poem Presentation Group Project

  • With a group (six total groups), you will become an expert on one of Yeats’ poems and you will present a fifteen-minute oral commentary about the poem and lead a talk about three to five discussion questions relevant to your poem for about ten minutes. You will close with an exit slip which your group will assess.
  • ADDED BONUS: There will be a peer-award vote for most INSIGHTFUL AND ENTERTAINING presentation at the end of the presentations.

Scoring Guide: Rubric Online

  • PowerPoint/Prezi: Appropriately-sized text; Not a lot of text; Images and words; Effort; Creativity; works cited page included: 10 points possible
  • Quality of IOC: 30 pts possible—scored on IOC rubric
  • Quality of discussion questions: 10 points possible
  • Presentation: Placement in room (spread out across “stage”; 1 person at computer); No reading from the PowerPoint or Prezi; Loud voices; All group members actively participated; Effort; Knowledge / understanding; Prepared/rehearsed; Engaging 10 points possible
  • Exit Slip: Quality of questions; assessment completed 10 points possible
  • Interesting and engaging presentation 10 points possible
  • Works Cited Page 10 points possible
  • Shared Group Grade Total score: ________ / 90 process points

Yeats Phase II: Timeline

  • Monday, 12/4: Assign groups and poems; in-class work time to research your poem 1304 Lab 5/6
  • Tuesday 12/5 and Wednesday 12/6: You will have time to collaborate for both of these class periods to prepare your presentations. Tuesday: 1304 Lab 5/6--Wednesday: 1304 Lab 5th; Carts 11 & 12 6th
  • Thursday, 12/7: Presentation on “The Song of Wandering Aengus” (1897)
  • Friday 12/8: Presentation on “Adams’ Curse” (1902)
  • Monday, 12/11: Presentation on “The Wild Swans at Coole” (1917)
  • Tuesday, 12/12: Presentation on “Leda and the Swan” (1924)
  • Wednesday, 12/13: Presentation on “Circus Animals’ Desertion” (1937/8)
  • Thursday 12/14: Presentation on “Long-legged Fly” (1939)
  • IOC/Ds begin on 12/19 and continue through 2/2. There will be no IOCs the week of finals.

Read to activate your prior knowledge of the phases of Yeats’ career

Yeats Phase II Work Day:

  • THREE MINUTES Read the poem aloud to the whole class to remind them about the content and style of the poem they surely diligently read last night. Students will have critically read and written a dominant-effect thesis statement for your poem before they arrive.
    • Allow the class two quiet minutes to make sense of the poem independently before your group starts your presentation.
  • 15 MINUTES For fifteen minutes, present your group’s IOC, participating equally: groups should aim to identify and explore all significant aspects of the extract. These include:
    • Hooking your listeners’ interest with fun facts about Yeats or the poem—cited verbally as well as in a works cited list.
    • Situating the extract as precisely as possible in the context of the poem from which it has been taken (or in the body of work, in the case of a complete poem)
    • Commenting on the effectiveness of the writer’s techniques, including the use of stylistic devices and their effect(s) on the reader.
    • Focusing on the extract itself, relating it to the whole poem (or body of work when a complete poem is used). It should not be used as a springboard for a discussion of everything the student knows about the work in question.
    • Sustaining a well-organized commentary. Your presentation should neither be delivered as a series of unconnected points nor take the form of a narration or a line-by-line paraphrase of the passage or poem.
    • Reminding your listeners why this poem—and Yeats’ work as a whole—is significant and important to Ireland and the larger world.
  • 10 MINUTES Now bring your classmates into a discussion of the poem: Develop 3 – 5 discussion questions for the class. Questions should be open-ended and allow for varying interpretations backed by evidence. Consider questions about conventions the author uses, questions involving puzzling aspects of the text, and questions asking for comparison to another poem.
  • FIVE MINUTES For the last five minutes of class, have your students complete an Exit Slip on a notecard giving you feedback on your lesson or asking them to answer a question about the poem. You and your group will divide up and assess the note cards by the day after your presentation. (Rubric: 5 points—transcendent analysis! to 1 point—not relevant)

“Leda and the Swan” 1924

  • Dominant Effects:
    • Allusions:
      • Mythology/History: Zeus, Leda, Helen, Agamemnon
    • Synecdoche:
      • A part of the bird is used to represent the whole
    • Structure: Petrarchan Sonnet
      • An octave and a sestet (lines 11 & 12 combined)
      • Meter: imperfect iambic pentameter
    • Rhetorical Questions

Helen (often called "Helen of Troy") was the daughter of Leda and Zeus, and was the sister of the Dioscuri and Clytemnestra.

  • Helen (often called "Helen of Troy") was the daughter of Leda and Zeus, and was the sister of the Dioscuri and Clytemnestra.
  • Since Zeus ‘visited’ Leda in the form of a swan, Helen was often presented as being born from an egg. She was reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the world.
  • When Helen reached marriageable age, all the greatest men in Greece courted her. Her mother's husband, King Tyndareos of Lacedaemon, was concerned about the trouble that might be caused by the disappointed suitors. Acting on the advice of Odysseus, he got all the suitors to swear that they would support the marriage rights of the successful candidate.
  • He then settled on Menelaus to be the husband of Helen. She lived happily with Menelaus for a number of years, and bore him a daughter, Hermione.
  • After a decade or so of married life, Helen was abducted by--or ran off with--Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy. Menelaus called on the other suitors to fulfill their oaths and help him get her back. As a result, the Greek leaders mustered the greatest army of the time, placed it under the command of Agamemnon, and set off to wage what became known as the Trojan War.
  • After the fall of Troy, Menelaus took Helen back to Lacedaemon, where they lived an apparently happy married life once more. After the end of their mortal existence, they continued to be together in Elysium.
  • There were a number of different accounts of Helen's relationship with Paris.
    • In some, she was truly in love with him, although her sympathies were mostly with the Greeks who beseiged Troy.
    • In others, she was a beautiful and wanton woman who brought disaster upon those around her.
    • In still other accounts, she never went to Troy at all: Hermes, acting on Zeus's orders, spirited her away to Egypt and fashioned a phantom out of clouds to accompany Paris; the real Helen was reunited with Menelaus after the Trojan War.

“Leda and the Swan”

  • Michaelangelo’s “Leda”
  • Da Vinci’s “Leda”

“The Song of Wandering Aengus” 1897

  • Dominant Effects:
    • Allusion
    • Sound:
      • Alliteration
      • Consonance
    • Song
      • Rhyme & Meter

“The Song of Wandering Aengus” 1897

  • Dominant Effects:
    • Allusion: Celtic Mythology
      • Aengus (Óengus in Old Irish) is a Celtic god of love, youth and poetic inspiration.
        • He is traditionally described as having singing birds circling his head.
  • Aengus fell in love with a girl he had seen in his dreams. His mom, his dad, and the Irish king searched for her for more than a year.
  • Aengus went to the lake of the Dragon's Mouth and found 150 girls chained in pairs, his girl among them.
  • On November 1, Caer and the other girls would turn into swans for a year.
  • Aengus was told he could marry Caer if he could identify her in her swan form.
  • Aengus turned himself into a swan and they flew away, singing beautiful music that put all listeners asleep for three days and nights.

“The Song of Wandering Aengus” 1897

Founds Dublin Hermetic Society, 1885

  • Founds Dublin Hermetic Society, 1885
  • The Wanderings of Oisin, 1889
  • Founds National Literary Society, 1891
  • Founds National (Abbey) Theater, 1897
  • Consciousness is Conflict: Maud Gonne marries MacBride, 1903
  • Easter Rebellion, 1916
  • Marries Georgiana Hyde-Lees, 1917; begins automatic writing that leads to A Vision, 1926
  • Serves as Irish Senator, 1922-1928
  • Nobel Prize for Literature, 1923
  • Purgatory written and performed, 1938
  • From Boston College Magazine, Winter 2001
  • “An Old Fool”
  • http://www.bc.edu/publications/bcm/winter_2001/ll_yeats.html

Wilfred Owen “Dulce Et Decorum Est” 1918/1920

  • An English poet and soldier; leading British WWI poet
  • Shocking, realistic poetry on the horrors of trenches and gas warfare

Titular Allusion: from Horace (65 BC–8 BC)

  • Roman Poet: Horace
  • Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori: mors et fugacem persequitur virum nec parcit inbellis iuventae poplitibus timidove tergo.
  • English Translation
  • How sweet and honorable it is to die for one's country: Death pursues the man who flees, spares not the hamstrings or cowardly backs Of battle-shy youths.
  • Horace was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (aka Octavian). 



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