W. B. Yeats – ‘The Man and the Echo’

This haunting poem is written by Yeats at the age of 73-74 with an imaginary echo in a mystical place and asks questions about life and death. The echo is a negative ‘voice’ that is almost telling Yeats to give up but the poem creates a different interpretation of this in which is defends the passion of life in the mind. The echo then goes on to repeat its sense of futility but the argument over meaning and significance is interrupted by the blind indifferent world of nature and can reach no conclusion, the poem expresses uncertainty about the value of meaning of the poets achievements but in a way that also asserts the vital importance of life of the mind, It reflects n death another presentation of the human soul asking great questions and finding the truth of only partial answers, the poem also reflects the atmosphere because of the setting of his imagination of the poet, it is of a mystical place from a journey which answers the great question the poet poses are short hollow echoes of his own words, this is a reflection of a secret place of ‘art’ which is never touched or seen by light, the poet is seemingly alone with his thoughts and final turmoil’s with his soul.
The tone presents intensity throughout with simple full rhymes that give the poem its powerful atmosphere that he is reaching the extremities in the dark place of his understanding. The poem cannot give him any independent answers back, a man in many ways can only hear his own echo, and a reflection of his own wants which reflects his loneliness.
The language is straightforward and reflects Yeats objectivity in trying to assess his past and look forward to his death. The form is conversational in tone and echoes when Yeats pauses, except at the end which conjures up the idea of death at the end of the poem.


W.B.Yeats – ‘Among School Children’

This poem is central to an inspection of a school by Yeats; it soon becomes an enquiry into life and the human want for perfection in relation to art with the discussion of love, creation of understanding and being. This poem was first published in 1928 in ‘The Tower’ collection and at the time of writing the poem. Yeats is a senator of the new Irish State: a worldwide figure that had famer and respect. Having done the inspection two years earlier there is a significant contrast in the presentation of Yeats, in which he is a successful public figure with private turmoil regarding his love for Maud Gonne and the reality of old age. Old age is key to the turmoil presented in the poem in which is depicted through art with questions of life, education, growing up and love. Yeats dwells on the physical decay on his own appearance with the possible contrast to the young children in their youth.
Yeats can be described as almost feeling trapped in an old, decaying world in which art and passion has stopped but a want for his old life, imagination and want for a time of cultural uprising of art. There is a reflection of tension in which Yeats is outwardly comfortable n his state of being but inwardly uncomfortable as neither real life nor imagination can be recognised. His is almost envious of the children in that they are young he knows they will gain experience but is saddened at the thought of the life they will get in comparison to his own life.
The tone of the poem is rye, perhaps ironic as the children are taught the best way in their education but are restrained from the life and experiences that awaits them that the poet has previously experienced – from a collective group to a single child considered by Yeats to resemble Maud Gonne.
The poem holds similarities to ‘Leda and the Swan’: “Leaden body” the language is shocking as it is talking about rape and violence but in contrast ‘Among School Children’ reflects innocence of the children and love for Maud Gonne. IT is a first person narrative conversational in tone and a sense of Yeats allowing the music he discusses in ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ The rhyme scheme is the same as that in ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ (ABABABCC) and roman numerals are used to add formality to the poem.

W. B. Yeats – ‘Sailing to Byzantium’

This poem is a depiction of Yeats changing interpretations of his life and the world he essentially lives in. Yeats throughout this poem reflects on the changes in Ireland and how it is not accepted by Yeats, he escapes the reality of his unhappiness in Ireland to his imagination containing ‘Byzantium’. The idea of this mythical place holds new possibilities for him in his old age; it is an escape from his physical appearance demonstrating his dreams of such a world but no full escape of reality. The classical interpretation of Yeasts passions are intertwined in the poem, stating that the majority of our arts emerged from these origins and culture. The city represents this idea in that through classical interpretation his imaginative city survived the fall of the Roman Empire and the changes throughout the city that had occurred due to the new Western civilisation. This poem similar to ‘Leda and the Swan’ is linked to the classical world and presenting parallels between an ancient world and a modern world. Yeats interpretation of ‘Byzantium’ and the significance it has to art almost makes up for man dying, this also represents his ideas on age and the loss of life, the arts are suppose to represents lasting long after man has died, a place where art is treasured and appreciated.
‘Byzantium’ is the modern day Istanbul and although Yeats has never visited this place he has hope that it will be the same as how he imagines it to be, he imagines it to be completely different to Ireland as he is essentially trying to leave Ireland. Yeats achieves what he desires from the poem as an exile from youth and younger age in comparison to himself.
The themes present in ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ are art and nature and how overly powerful art is compared to nature, how great civilisation can control nature and desire, with a specific demonstration of art.