I have a 6-page paper that needs some editing/proof-reading as far as passive voice, grammatical errors that I am unsure the correct fix for, and correct MLA citation assistance. I wouldn't mind feedback if anything seems unclear so that I may fix it before submitting the assignment. Thank you in advance!
Powles 1 Amanda Powles
Intro to British Literature
October 7, 2016
Mystified by Yeats William Butler Yeats writes, ?I am deep in ?Celtic Mysticism?, the whole thing is
forming an elaborate vision? (Jeffares, "A Commentary on the Collected Poems of W. B.
Yeats", p. 26) in a letter addressed to George Russell in 1898. As a man of the
Modernism Era, Yeats? religious views, which flowed through his poetry, were
considered deplorable. His readers and critics disparaged the thought of Yeats? interest
in mysticism, spiritualism, occultism, and astrology; most explicitly depicted in, ?Sailing
to Byzantium? and ?The Second Coming.? Paradoxically, none of the criticisms halted
Yeats? potential to become one of the leading figures of twentieth-century literature.
Willian Butler Yeats was born into a Protestant family in Sandymount, Ireland on
June 13th, 1865 and was educated both in Ireland and in London. A young Yeats
studied poetry at the Metropolitan School of Art where he endured a crisis of identity
and beliefs when he met George Russell. Russell had cultivated his interest in
mysticism by gifting him a book on Buddhism. This was significant as it led to the
accentuation of both mythology and occultism in his earliest poetry collection, which
was published in 1889. With the turn of the century, Yeats? poetry shifted towards a
more physical and realistic style.
Yeats? distinctive quality amongst other modernist poets who dabbled in free
verse was that Yeats stayed true to traditional form. Yeats was a Symbolist poet, known Powles 2 to create a description of a thing which would form an allusion referring to another
artistic piece of either writing or images. The intent was that this would lead the reader
to consort that Yeats meant the referent to embody something much more ethereal and
There were many transitions and evolutions within Yeats? span of writing poetry these shifts were categorized into three periods. While Yeats's early and ornate poetry
portrayed Irish mythology, his transformed and evolved middle period of poetry was
bursting with more contemporary issues with limber tone and well-developed cadences.
Yeats's third period of poetry rediscovered spiritualism and seemed to be a
reintroduction of his earlier period of mysticism accompanied with the concept of
Automatic Writing is a ?psychic phenomenon? in which (the) hand and pen
presumably served as unconscious instruments for the spirit world to send information...
From these sessions, Yeats formulated theories about life and history. He believed that
certain patterns existed, the most important being what he called gyres, interpenetrating
cones representing mixtures of opposites of both a personal and historical nature?
("William Butler Yeats"). By analyzing and contrasting ?The Second Coming? and
?Sailing to Byzantium,? one can see how the relationship between the spiritual
dimension and how his poetry changed from inspiration to transcendence.
"Much to the embarrassment of his more rational admirers, W. B. Yeats says that
"spiritual instructors" began talking to him in late 1917. Yeats claims that the experience
changed his life, and most critics agree that his best poetry began to emerge in the Powles 3 years between 1916, when he commemorated the Easter Rising, and 1919, when he
wrote "The Second Coming." The "instructors" who spoke through Yeats's wife later
provided him, he says, with the image of the two interpenetrating cones which the poet
used to explain the development of civilizations in A Vision. Giorgio Mel- chiori points
out that those "gyres," each contradicting the movements of the other, showed Yeats
what he had always wanted to believe: that human history followed the same laws as
his own processes of poetic creation" (Ward 1982 143-163).
?The Second Coming? portrays a post-apocalyptic picture of humanity using vivid
imagery, for instance, Yeats writes ?That twenty centuries of stony sleep / Were vexed to
nightmare by a rocking cradle?. This is a reference to the two thousand year cycle that
Yeats believed was occurring at the time and the reason why there were world wars
which left Europe seeming like a wasteland. The atmosphere is sparse yet ominous,
and the reader knows that there are very evil things to come.
However, the problem with this poem is that even though it paints magnificent
pictures, the meaning is difficult to comprehend. In this sense, Harrison states that the
poem ?condenses into imagery as much of the poet's thought as is possible but which
also creates interpretative problems of which he was fully aware and which he attributed
to the compressed, logical rigor of the ideas? (362). The problem with the text is that it is
too complex to make an interpretation and understanding of the mystical subtext. In
fact, one can see this complexity of communication in the poem itself when Yeats writes
?Hardly are those words out / When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi / Troubles my Powles 4 sight?. He finds the relationship between his words and mystical visions problematic,
In ?Sailing to Byzantium?, the tension between the text and the mystical
foundations seem to be reconciled, allowing the reader to more easily interpret what
Yeats is trying to convey. According to Parks, with this poem, ?Yeats achieves his
lifelong goal: a fusion of his esthetic with an occult idealism? (333). In this poem, one
can finally witness the pinnacle of Yeats? career, which allowed him to be very popular
while still handling very intimate and controversial subject matter.
The fact that ?Sailing to Byzantium? is rather simple in comparison to his wording
in ?The Second Coming? does not make its meaning any easier to understand.
However, it does make it simpler for readers to understand what he is trying to get
across. In this poem, Yeats discusses the complications with aging and asks the divine
sages to ?Consume my heart away; sick with desire / And fastened to a dying animal?,
so as to be gathered ?Into the artifice of eternity?. As the reader can notice, Yeats has
been able to transmit his spiritual inclinations with poetic flourish, something that he did
not seem to be able to do before, in ?The Second Coming?. Even though the earlier
poem is more powerful, ?Sailing to Byzantium? is clearer, and the writer seems to reach
somewhat of a pinnacle in his life, when he is finally able to put his two passions
together into one. His texts allow him to have his soul taken away into immortality.
In conclusion, Yeats? poetry allowed him to make a spiritual connection through
his poetry, which he achieved through references to what most people would believe to
be the occult. In this sense, ?The Second Coming? is filled with dark imagery, painting a Powles 5 post-apocalyptic scenario and written through the use of a device to communicate with
the spiritual world. This comes into full display in ?Sailing to Byzantium?, in which the
writer finally reaches what he was looking for: spiritual transcendence through poetry
and the occult. It is astonishing to see how a writer can make his life have spiritual
transcendence through writing. Powles 6 Works Cited Jeffares, A. Norman. "A Commentary on the Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats."
Google Books. Macmillian and Co LTD, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2016. p. 26 "William Butler Yeats." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2016. Ward, David. "Yeats's Conflicts With His Audience, 1897-1917." ELH 49.1 (1982):
143-63. Web. "W. B. Yeats." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2016.
Harrison, John R. ?What Rough Beast? Yeats, Nietzsche and Historical Rhetoric in ?The
Second Coming?.? Papers on Language and Literature, vol. 31, no. 4, 1995, pp.
Parks, L. C. ?The Hidden Aspect of 'Sailing to Byzantium.?? Etudes Anglaises, vol. 16,
no. 4, 1963, pp. 333-345. Print.
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