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Use of myths in W.B. Yeats’ poems

Use of myths in W.B. Yeats’ poems

Use of myths in W.B. Yeats’ poems

Q. Comment on the use of myth in Yeats’ poems with reference to the poems ‘Easter 1916’, ‘Leda and the Swan, and ‘Among the School Children'

Answer: W.B. Yeats was deeply influenced by mythology and often incorporated mythological themes and characters in his poetry. Yeats used mythology as a means of exploring universal human experiences and emotions, and to give depth and resonance to his poetry. This essay will examine how Yeats used myth in his poems 'Easter 1916', 'Leda and the Swan', and 'Among School Children', and how it contributed to the meaning and significance of these poems.

In 'Easter 1916', Yeats draws upon the myth of the phoenix, a legendary bird that is said to rise from its own ashes, to convey the transformative power of the Easter Rising of 1916. The poem begins with a somber tone, mourning the loss of the rebels who had been executed, but then transforms into a celebration of their martyrdom and the rebirth of Ireland. The phoenix symbolizes the cyclical nature of history, and Yeats suggests that the Easter Rising represented a new chapter in Ireland's history, one that would lead to its rebirth and renewal.

In 'Leda and the Swan', Yeats reimagines the classical myth of Leda, who was seduced and impregnated by Zeus in the form of a swan. Yeats transforms the story into a dark and violent encounter, symbolizing the brutality of the sexual act and the destruction that it brings. The poem explores themes of power, violence, and sexuality, and raises questions about the nature of human relationships.

In 'Among School Children', Yeats uses the myth of the Platonic idea of beauty to reflect on the passing of time and the loss of innocence. The poem begins with Yeats visiting a school and observing the children at play, before moving on to reflect on his own life and the passage of time. The myth of the Platonic idea of beauty represents a timeless ideal that is contrasted with the fleeting nature of human life, and underscores the poem's central theme of the transience of human experience.

Finally, Yeats used mythology in his poems to explore universal themes and emotions, and to add depth and resonance to his poetry. In 'Easter 1916', he drew upon the myth of the phoenix to convey the transformative power of the Easter Rising, while 'Leda and the Swan' reimagined a classical myth to explore themes of power, violence, and sexuality. In 'Among School Children', Yeats used the myth of the Platonic idea of beauty to reflect on the transience of human experience. Through the use of myth, Yeats created poems that are rich in meaning and symbolism, and that continue to resonate with readers today.

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