Yeats Study Guide

Yeats Study Guide - William Butler Yeats(1865 1939 Born in...

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William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939) - Born in Dublin, Ireland. - Father was originally a lawyer, but gave law up for painting.  Yeats would also  attend art school, but leave to focus on poetry. - Moved to London, then back to Dublin. - Yeats had religious feeling, but could not accept “Christian orthodoxy” and as  such spent his whole life searching for something to fill the void, as it were.  (to a degree he created a new religion of poetry) - Began with kind of a romantic notion, studied Spenser, Shelley, and Blake  (whose works he would edit). - Had the idea of the Spiritus Mundi (more details on this in the  The Second  Coming  section). - Was in love with a woman, Maud Gonne, who never accepted his advances,  but who was the subject of many of his poems. - Finally married in 1917 (at the age of 52) to George Hyde Lees, a woman  who was capable of “automatic writing” which Yeats believed was dictated by  spirits. The Stolen Child Written in 1886 and published in 1889 in  The Wanderings of Oisin and Other  Poems Considered to be one of Yeats’ more notable early poems Yeats was very interested in Irish legends and the places mentioned in this poem  are located in Sligo, Ireland where Yeats spent much of his childhood Based on a Irish legend and concerns faeries beguiling a child to come away  with them and reflects his sadness over the premature death of his brother,  Robert
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The poem reflects the early influence of Romantic literature and Pre-Raphaelite  verse Themes Description of the location (Sligo) which sets the somber mood of the poem Faeries are attempting to coax the children into coming away with them Faeries appear to be friendly at first They are actually quite mischievous and evil according to the OED Weeping – expresses the sorrow and pain of the world, the faeries feel that it  is better for the children to come away with them to a happier place  Down by the Salley Gardens (p.2024) - Supposedly Yeats’s attempt to recall a song from “three lines imperfectly  remembered” by an old peasant woman. - “Salley” refers to sallow, or the willow.  A quick look in the OED will show that  the willow is often a symbol of unrequited love, or for mourning the loss of a  loved one; both themes that apply to the poem. - Two quatrains, rhyme scheme aabb ccdd. - His love is described as “snow white” twice, implying a purity and grace in  her.
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