William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was born in Dublin.
His father was a lawyer and a well-known portrait painter. Yeats was educated in London and in Dublin, but he spent his summers in the west of Ireland in the family's summerhouse at Connaught. So of his poems included title such as The tower (1928), The rose (1893), The wind among the reeds (1899) and Responsibilities (1914), But I am going to describe how Yeats expresses deep personal feelings and create a strong personal atmosphere in 'An Irish airman' and 'Wild swans at Coole'.Firstly I am going to talk about 'An Irish Airman'. This poem is about an airman who may well be identified with Major Gregory who was the son of lady Gregory who was one of Yeats's friends. Her son was killed in the war.
He was a pilot, which was extremely dangerous in world war 1 for many reasons, one of which was the fighter planes that they used had wooden frames and this meant they could be easily damaged by the enemy machine gun fire in the fights that happened up in the skies (dogfights). Another reason was none of the British pilots had parachutes, which meant that if the pilots were shot down then they couldn't parachute out to safety, and would almost certainly die.The poem starts with the airman saying that he will certainly die. He also tells us that he doesn't love the people he is fighting for but also even more strange is that he says the ones who he is fighting against, he doesn't hate. The side he was fighting for were the Britain and his own fellow countrymen, the Irish above the country of France. He does not hate his enemy the Germans either.
'Those that I fight I do not hate,Those that I guard I do not love...'Most airmen were from wealthy backgrounds and the Royal flight corps, which is now the RAF, was the most elite and gentlemanly of the armed forces. This shows that the airman was wealthy, as you had to be wealthy to be able to learn how to fly. Gregory was from a wealthy background so this shows that Yeats was probably thinking about Gregory.
The poem shows that the airmen had a very selfish attitude and that he was also very arrogant, as he seems to think that his fellow countrymen do not love him and in turn he does not love them and he maybe despises them.'No likely end could bring them lossOr leave them happier than before.'Now the airmen shows his reasons for fighting the war but first he says what are not his reasons for fighting.'Nor law nor duty made me fightNor public men nor cheering crowds.
''Now' and 'Nor' are then repeated which is very important because it shows why he doesn't want to fight and why he didn't fight.He chose to fight of his own free will, which was different to many of the thousands of me who signed up to fight (Conscription) and he says he did not fight out of a sense of duty. Neither the popularity nor the fame made him fight.He is not driven by any of this; he is actually driven by 'A lonely impulse of delight'.The airman flies because he enjoys it and enjoys all of the excitement and danger of it because it is a real adrenaline rush. Also he knows that he will die and that too adds to the danger and excitement of the flying.
The airman lives life dangerously and enjoys living it on the edge.The poem also seems to tell use that he doesn't seem to have a wife or anyone special back home and he is lonely, if he does then he doesn't have any strong feelings for them and cares very little of them. Normal life means little to the airman and this is show in the words 'this' and 'years', He only lives life in the present. The past..
. well the past is history and doesn't matter anymore nor does the future as he has no ambition.Now I am going to write about the 'Wild swans at Coole'. The narrator/poet appears to have been happier in his earlier life because he now appears to have no human company. Only the beautiful, elegant swans remain to be his 'companions' but they too will leave him alone one day and fly away.
This poem is set in County Sligo, which was the home of Yeats friend lady Gregory. Yeats at the time of visiting Coole had been in love with a woman called Maud Gonne who Yeats proposed to and she turned him. She married a man who was later shot. Yeats then proposed for a second time but also was turned down again. This poem may be about the sadness he went through when Maud Gonne twice rejected him even though he did marry a year later to Hyde-Lees.Firstly the poem talks about the peaceful, calm, tranquil scene in the autumn.
'The trees are in their autumn beautyThe woodland paths are dryUnder the October twilightThe water mirrors a still sky...'The metaphor of the lake mirrors the sky, the autumn trees and the twilit sky all help to make this picture stronger and create a picture in our minds. In the water of the lake float 59 swans and with the 's' sounds in 'stones', 'swans' and 'still sky' give the poem alliteration and also help to show the peaceful, gentleness of the scene. One swan, like the poet is lonely and has no companion.
The second part of the poem talks about how it has been 19 years since he first visited the lake and as he counts the numbers of years all 59 of the swans rise up out of the water and fly up into the air.'All suddenly a mountAnd scatter, wheeling the great broken ringsUp one their clamorous wings...'In the third stanza the poet begins to sound sad and show he has heart ache as he looks and observes the beautiful swans.
He says that everything has now changed since he first came to the lake and observed the swans. It has the effect if showing us that the poet was probably happier earlier in his life when he first came to the lake. In 'Shore' and 'Sore' the 's' sounds have a rather haunting feel. He remembers:'The bell beat wings above my head..
.'All of the 'T' sounds and 'E' sounds (assonance) help to call up the very specific sounds that the swans make when they are in flight. This too was when the poet enjoyed life and was in his prime (he had a spring in his step at the time).'Trod with a lighter step'In Stanza four, it talks about companionship and how the swans swim together and how they mate for life and stay faithful to each other over there life time. The 'C' sounds in 'cold companionable' help to show the coldness of the lakes water but also the faithfulness of the swans to each other.
The poet's heart aches and grows cold unlike the swans 'their hearts have not grown cold...' and this shows they are in love forever and no matter what happens they will always have 'love' and 'passion' for each other. The poet is jealous of the swans and envies them.Finally in stanza five the poet talks about togetherness and how the swans stay and 'drift' together.
There is assonance in the 'I' sounds, which gives a peaceful and tranquil feel to the line. The poet ends by saying that the swans will leave one day for sure and will build their nest near some other 'pool or lakes edge'. This verse shows real unhappiness and sadness in the stanza as it shows that the poet knows the swans will one day fly off and leave him alone again and companionless as the swans remind him of happier times and what used to be instead of what is. In the end he will only have the memories of the swans and may soon die himself.The poet is sad about the fact that he knows that one day the swans will leave him on his own again and desert him. He also feels sadness for the swans, one in particular because there are 59 of them which means they will all have a partner except one, which in many ways is like him, alone, companionless and sad.
There is nothing he can do but wait for it to happen, as he knows it will. The only thing he will have left will be his memories of the swans and like wise of the woman he used to love.This poem is very autobiographical and shows the sadness and loss of his one true love Maud Gonne who did not and will not return to his life. So this poem and the other deal with a lonely man. However the airman enjoys loneliness and is content to die, whereas the poet in 'Wild swans at Coole' does not want to die unhappy.