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.


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