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.


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