“Yeats's poetry is driven by a tension between the real world in which he lives and an ideal world that he imagines.”
I believe this is an apt statement to define to work of Yeats. At the heart of Yeats’s poetry there is a strong division between the natural world and the idyllic world which Yeats appears to be constantly seeking. Yeats was an artist who was the first Irishman to win a Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel committee described as: “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic way gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” The poems I feel which perfectly support this statement are: “Lake Isle of Innisfree”, “Sailing to Byzantium”, “The Wild Swans at Coole”, “1913” and “1916”.
“Lake Isle of Innisfree” is a sentimental poem of escape. Here Yeats wishes to replace the dreariness of London with the idyllic world of Innisfree. The poem opens with an almost hypnotically strong sense of determination: “I will arise and go now”. The fact that this line is also repeated depicts an overwhelmingly strong pull Yeats feels for Innisfree. Yeats entertains the thought of living in Innisfree by use of sensual imagery: “live alone in the bee loud glade. This type of imagery is further explored in the highly sensual image: “I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore”. Yeats appears haunted by this beautiful place as it’s as if the waters are calling him. Perhaps the starkest contrast in this poem is between the different colours of each location. The beautiful “purple glow” of the pastoral utopia of Innisfree contrasts the “pavements grey” of the dull concrete jungle. The poem closes with somewhat of an epiphany as it becomes clear to Yeats that he will never actually get to live in this perfect place: “I hear it in the deep hearts core”. It’s what he wants the most but sadly it’s not possible.
In “Sailing to Byzantium” Yeats is also faced with an impossible desire to fulfil. He directly displays his contempt with his...
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