Love through the ages

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

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William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


eats was an Irish poet and dramatist, in his later years he served as an Irish senator for two terms. He founded the Abbey Theatre and in 1923 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Yeats was known for his highly artistic and considered form using allusive imagery and symbolic structures. Unlike many of the modernist of the period, Yeats was a master of traditional forms. He is still considered to be one of the best poets of English Literature.
When You Are Old (1893)
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

He Wishes For The Clothes of Heaven (1899)
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

1929- late 1930’s – The Great Depression – a severe worldwide depression that originated with the stock market crash in the USA in 1929 resulting in reduced trade and widespread unemployment and poverty.

Victorian Period – 1830-1901

Modernism – 1890’s – 1940’s (High Modernism – 1920’s)

irginia Woolf (1882 – 1941)


oolf was an English novelist, essayist, feminist and writer of short stories. She is one of the most recognised of the modernist writers, well known for her use of the stream of consciousness. She ended her life in 1941 by walking into a river with stones in her pockets. She is most famous for her novels ‘To the Lighthouse’ and ‘Mrs Dalloway’ and her feminist criticism ‘A Room of One’s Own’
Mrs. Dalloway (1925) - Mrs Dalloway remembers her youth.
But this question of love (she thought, putting her coat away), this falling in love with women. Take Sally Seton; her relation in the old days with Sally Seton. Had not that, after all, been love?

She sat in the floor – that was her first impression of Sally – she sat in the floor with her arms round her knees, smoking a cigarette. Where could it have been? The Mannings? The Kinloch-Joneses’? At some party (where, she could not be certain), for she had a distant recollection of saying to the man she was with, ‘Who is that?’ And he had told her, and said that Sally’s parents did not get on (how that shocked her – that one’s parents should quarrel!). But all that evening she could not take her eyes off Sally. It was an extraordinary beauty of the kind she most admired, dark, large-eyed, with a quality which, since she hadn’t got it herself, she always envied – a sort of abandonment, as if she could say anything, do anything; a quality much commoner in foreigners than in English-women. Sally always said she had French blood in her veins, an ancestor had been with Marie Antoinette, had his head cut off, left a ruby ring. Perhaps that Summer she came to stay at Bourton., walking in quite unexpectedly without a penny in her pocket, one night after dinner, and upsetting poor Aunt Helena to such an extent that she never forgave her. There had been some awful quarrel at home. She literally hadn’t a penny that night when she came to them – had pawned a brooch to come down. She had rushed off in a passion. They had sat up till all hours of the night talking. Sally it was who has made her feel, for the first time, how sheltered her life in Bournton was. She knew nothing about sex – nothing about social problems. She had once seen an old man who had dropped dead in a field – she had seen cows just after their calves were born. But Aunt Helena never liked discussion of anything (when Sally gave her William Morris, it had to be wrapped in brown paper). There they sat, hour after hour, talking in her bedroom at the top of the house, talking about life, how they were to reform the world.

The Bloomsbury Group (1906-1930’s) – a group of writer who lived in the Bloomsbury area of London and had a considerable influence on British culture at the time.

Modernism – 1890’s – 1940’s

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)


n American author of novels and short stories, Fitzgerald’s work is considered evocative of the Jazz Age, a term he created himself. His novels are known for the theme of youth and promise along with despair and age, many are considered a social comment on the age in which he was writing. Fitzgerald is best known for his novel, The Great Gatsby.
The Great Gatsby (1925) - Tom and Gatsby fight over Daisy’s love

She looked at him blindly. "Why – how could I ... love him – possibly?"

"You never loved him."
She hesitated. Her eyes fell on Jordan and me with a sort of appeal, as though she realized at last what she was doing – and as though she had never, all along, intended doing anything at all. But it was done now. It was too late.
"I never loved him," she said, with perceptible reluctance.
"Not at Kapiolani?" demanded Tom suddenly.
The ballroom beneath, muffled and suffocating chords were drifting up on hot waves of air.
"Not that day I carried you down from the Punch Bowl to keep your shoes dry?" There was a husky tenderness in his tone "Daisy?"
"Please don’t." Her voice was cold, but the rancor was gone from it. She looked at Gatsby. "There, Jay," she said – but her hand as she tried to light a cigarette was trembling. Suddenly she threw the cigarette and the burning match on the carpet.
Oh, you want too much!" she cried to Gatsby. "I love you now – isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past." She began to sob helplessly. "I did love him once – but I loved you too."
Gatsby’s eyes opened and closed.
"You loved me TOO?" he repeated.
"Even that’s a lie," said Tom savagely. "She didn’t know you were alive. Why – there’re things between Daisy and me that you’ll never know, things that neither of us can ever forget."
The words seemed to bite physically into Gatsby.
"I want to speak to Daisy alone," he insisted. "She’s all excited now –"
"Even alone I can’t say I never loved Tom," she admitted in a pitiful voice. "It wouldn’t be true."

The Lost Generation (1918-1930’s) – A term that has been used to describe many of the generation of writers who came to maturity during World War One. They are often characeterised by their sense of disillusionment

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