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Biplob Prodhan
  • 1 week ago
  • 18
What personal elements do you find in Yeats’ poetry? [DU. 1993, NU. 2007, 2009, 2012, 2015]


Or, How does Yeats’ use personal elements in his poetry? [NU. 2001]

Ans. In the poetic career of W. B. Yeats his friends, relatives and admirers played a very significant role. A major portion of his poetry was written about his friends, admirers and the persons with whom he was associated by love or fellow-feeling. In doing this he has been remarkably successful in enlarging them to heroic proportions. To understand Yeats’s poetry one requires the knowledge of some of the events of his life.

The most important factor in Yeats’s personal poetry is his love for Maud Gonne and the sense of loss resulting from his failure to marry her. When You Are Old, Her Praise, No Second Troy, Among School Children, The Tower and Prayer for My Daughter, all make direct or indirect references to her. All the poems celebrate her as being “the loveliest woman born out of the mouth of Plenty’s Horn”.

With his growing years Yeats came in contact with some friends and admirers who left deep impression on his literary mind, and who appear in his poetry by name. Lady Augusta Gregory, Major Robert Greygory, John Sange, John O’Leary, and Synge are few of them. He was also influenced by some clubs. Yeats was the founder member of the Dublin Hermetic Society and studied spiritualism, magic, theosophy and Buddhism with his friends. He also became a member of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society and the Order of the Golden Dawn. In 1891 he founded the Rhymer’s Club in London and worked with Lionel Johnson, Ernest Dowson, Pound, Arthur Symons and others. In these years he was influenced by ‘French Symbolism’ which later on led him to take part in the “Imagist” movement. His wife Georgie Hyde-Lees helped him develop his esoteric system. In different stages of his, he had different influences and this resulted in three major stages of his poetry.

Yeats’ biography is closely interwoven with his poems. To have a full understanding of his poems an intimate knowledge of his life is essential. There are many references to personal details in quite a number of his poems. The poems such as Among School Children, The Municipal Gallery Revisited, and even Easter 1916 bring in quite a personal touches. We also find poems like A Dialogue of Self and Soul and Sailing to Byzantium which try to tackle personal problems on a universal level.

To sum up, Yeats’s success in turning his personal emotions, likes and dislikes into great poetry is really remarkable. Very few modern poets have succeeded in turning the powers of poetry to such an effective personal use and yet preserve the necessary impersonality of poetry in which Yeats believed as much as T. S. Eliot did.

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Biplob Prodhan
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