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Analyzing the Poetry of Yeats

            In analyzing the poetry of William Butler Yeats, my interpretation of his work has been strongly enhanced by his innovative use of textual forms, structures and features, especially in light of his response to change. Ultimately, the poetry of Yeats demonstrates a response to modernity and reveals that he has reconciled himself to the inevitability of change in a modern world. Textual forms and features clearly illustrate his intellectual and emotional journey of coming to terms with change. This interpretation is established through the study of 'Wild Swans at Coole' and 'The Second Coming.' .
             Yeats utilizes textual form and features to evoke the tension he felt between a desire to transcend time and a growing awareness of the futility of such an attempt. This is illustrated in his romantic poem "Wild Swans at Coole. The role of personal context has shaped why he is clinging to Romantic values. At the age of 51, Yeats has been rejected three times by Maude Gonne, as well as been faced with the dissolution of Easter 1916 protests. These influences show a desire to halt change and return to a less complicated past through a Romantic paradigm that promoted a belief that an individual could transcend time and change through their connections with nature. By employing aspects of the archaic Ballad form, Yeats demonstrates a yearning for a simpler and more natural response to the significant shifts occurring socially and personally. The ballad form is adopted in part through the stable 5-stanza structure. The tension between Yeats' use of a more traditional form and the inevitability of change, which overcomes him, is also evoked through the lack of consistent meter, where he shifts between the iambic pentameter, "The bell-beat of their wings above my head", tetrameter, "among what rushes they build" and trimeter, "mirrors a still sky". This variation in metre mirrors the lack on control and the weariness Yeats feels in facing a disintegrating world.

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