What romantic elements do you find in the poems of W.B. Yeats? Illustrate your answer from the poems you have read [NU. 2007, 2011, 2013]
Or, Trace elements of romanticism in Yeats’s poetry. Or, Yeats’s poetry is a perpetual effort to escape-Do you agree with the statement? If so, give reasons for your answer. Or, Can Yeats be termed a late romantic? Give reasons for your answer. [NU. 2012] Or, In what sense is W. B. Yeats the last romantic poet?
Ans. W. B. Yeats, as he declares himself, is one of the last romantics. There is enough in his early poetry and also in his later poetry that is unmistakably romantic, although the later Yeats belongs to the modern tradition. His early poems arose out of his love for Irish folklore, imagined wanderings with lovely phantoms, and occasionally a Keatsian richness of the sensuous apprehension of the beauty of nature. The most distinct traits of romanticism traceable in Yeats’s poetry are the romance of mythology and folklore, escapism. mysticism, occultism, romantic love, self-revelation, use of symbols, sensuousness, etc.
In his early poems, Yeats used the mythology of Gaelic heroic legends and folklore. This mythology had the same fascination for the young Yeats as Greek mythology had for the poets of the Renaissance. As a follower the Pre-Raphaelites, Yeats shows his tendency of escapism in the poems such as The Man Dreamed of Faeryland, The Lake Isle of Innisfree. Innisfree is an island in a lake near Sligo where the poet spent his boyhood holidays with his grandparents. So standing on an actual pavement in London, the mature Yeats dreams of this island in a fit of homesickness. The Lake Isle of Innisfree gives expression to this feeling of weariness and longing for an ideally simple but beautiful place, It is a symbol of a peaceful place, where the poet’s soul may find rest and tranquillity. Thus the poem records the poet’s mood of escapism in the romantic tradition.
A very important ingredient of Yeats’s romanticism is his use of symbols. He was greatly influenced by the symbolist movement in France. The symbols of Yeats’s early poetry are occult in character. He makes use of the occult symbols, of rose, lily, bird, water, tree, moon and sun. Some of the symbols employed in his mature poems are the Tower, the Swan, Byzantium.
Love is regarded as a romantic theme and Yeats-wrote a large number of love poems which bear the reminiscences of his passionate but frustrating love-relation with Maud Gonne, the famous politician of Ireland. The poems such When You Are Old, No Second Troy celebrate the beauty of Maud Gonne and his intensely passionate heart
Self-revelation is another romantic trait in Yeats’s poetry. Similarly a large bulk of Yeats’s poetry relates to his own personality, his inner conflicts, his friendships etc. A Prayer for My Daughter and Among School Children are deeply personal revelations.
To conclude, W. B. Yeats began his career as a late Romantic. Romanticism associated with lyricism and escapism suited the young Yeats but he was quick enough to step into a maturer mode of poetry as it is marked by his poem A Coat.