Birdsong and WW1 Introduction

World War One was a global war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918.

One of the long-term causes of the war was the resurgence of imperialism in the foreign policies of the great powers of Europe. More immediately, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, on 28 June 1914.

Birdsong is a 1993 war novel by English author Sebastian Faulks. Faulks’ fourth novel, it tells of a man called Stephen Wraysford at different stages of his life both before and during World War I. Birdsong is part of a trilogy of novels by Sebastian Faulks which includes The Girl at the Lion d’Or and Charlotte Gray which are all linked through location, history and several minor characters.

Webliography: Wikipedia


The Man and the Echo

In this haunting poem, Yeats is an imaginary dialogue with his own cool in a mystical place. He asks questions about life and death. The echo seems to suggest that he gives up but the poet defies this negativity in a passionate defence of the life of the mind. The echo then goes on to repeat its sense of futility but the argument over meaning and significance is interrupted by the blind difference of the world of nature and can reach no conclusion.

If Among School Children asks questions of life and art and the possibilities of fulfilment this curious and later haunting poem expresses more doubt and uncertainty of the value and meaning of the poet. But in a way that all inserts the vital importance of the life of the mind and art. It’s a poem reflecting on death. Another person stations of the drama if the human soul asking great quiets ion and finding only the truth. A mystical place at one of the mountains in slider, the journey is one of the Grecian journey to the arrival of the orical at delton. Only here the answers to the great questions the poet poses a short echoes of his own words.

In this secret place which is never touched by light the poet seeming utterly alone with his thoughts and is rather cut off from the world undergoes a final reckoning with his souls. The lines bitter/terse intensity and simple full rhymes give the poem it’s powerful atmosphere. They give the poem a chant life feel and there’s the quality of an epitaf of some of the words. But the overwhelming affect in extremes reaching in this dark place of his mind to the limit of his own understanding. It’s tantalising in the poem that the separate voice takes and alters the mans meaning and changes them in addition to the bleak deadening echo of his own predicament in the face of death. The echo cannot give him and independent answers back, a man can only hear his own echo a reflection of his own cravings, a mirror of his own guilty secrets, a bleak cold a formation of his existential loneliness. The existence of two voice and then a third which is nature crying out out that cuts mans debate with himself suggesting a reality that is highly mysterious and illusion. The man who is the dying poet desires an answer, an explanation, a kind of closure but the voices reverberate on in their own haunting, illusive way.

•Conversations and echoes when Yeats pauses except for end which conjures up the idea of death.

•Self doubt.

•Uses rhyming couplets, 4 feet per line, 7-8 syllable lines hard echo voice. Independent from poets that is chilling like rabbit which is a reminder of violence and separate world of nature, many of his poems are two views and debating. (Like in Easter 1916).

•Plain talk but has a slow and controlled pace created by the metre of the poem. The straightforwardness of the language says he is assessing his past and looks forward to death.

Among School Children

Among School Children, talks about broken dreams of life, perfection that can be envisaged in art labours of love, creation and understanding and being. Yeats was a senior on the new Irish state when he wrote this and was a widely recognised poet and public figure who gained a lot of fame and respect. He was invited to do a school inspection hitch the poem is based around. The poem reaches into questions about old age and tragic and triumphant in human condition and art which is similar to ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. Yeats questions the point of life, education, growing up and love. He believes it all ends up in old age, tragedy and broken dreams.

He questions:
•Is life worth the trouble of being born.
•What does life mean.
•Great philosophies appearing to be ridiculous.
•Make of perfection of art and imagination.

Many times Yeats dwells on physical decay. The iron that whilst the body declines, the spirit and imagination along with passion remain alive and vital. Human pain sound vivid like an echo. Tension at work in the poem that Yeats imagination can bring tools past with such intensity yet he is stuck in a physical world that betrays his dreams and is acting a part in physical life. Imagination has all the intensity and vitality, real life leads to false dreams. Torn between comfortable pose outwardly and crying inwardly. Neither real life of imagination can be reconciled. Yeats envies and potties the children of growing up and becoming adults.

•Resignation, bitterness and disillusion of betrayed hopes.
•Thinks of the harshness of life which is developed in verse three.
•The time of wry in writing, perhaps ironic.
•Taught in best modern way of its time, leaning is formed unlike tumultuous education if real life that awaits them and poet has had.
•The movement from children to single child (like Maude Gone) mediation on relationship between natural things and images.

•Time, identify, platonic ideas of physical world.

•Resembling of Ladan body.
•Shocking image to bring up in a school.
•Lada association in Maude Gone.

•First person narrative.
•Conversational in tone.
•Sense of Yeats allowing the sensual music.
•Cannot isolate format and content as they blend together to aid meaning.

•abababcc rhyme scheme.
•Roman numerals to add formality.

The Wild Swans At Coole

The poem ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ is written in a very regular stanza form: five six-line stanzas, each written in a roughly iambic meter. The rhyme scheme in each stanza is ABCBDD. The poem has a contrast where the stone is still yet the swan moves and is a modified ballet format tries to include rhyming couplets in an image of perfection. Yeats reflects on his age in the first line, as he is middle aged. The mention of a mirror to heaven in line three. It is spoken in the present tense. He refers to having an incomplete life and about his broken love with Maude Gone. His shattered illusions of love and Ireland are also told of. He emphasises the sorrow and pain of growing older and talks about how it could be the end of his life and time is running out. Originally the third stanza should have been the end of the poem but Yeats redrafted it and extended the poem. He then goes on to talk about time he hasn’t got and uses the techniques of an oxymoron and alliteration. He feels deserted and that he is an oxymoron to the swans he’s watching. He repeats the image of still water and uses monosyllables on a gentle beat and poky syllables to help balance it. The last verse there is a lack of rhyme and rhythm to help isolate and dispel his vision. He ends on a sense of longing and change with a sense of hope. The final verse is about him reflecting and feeling lonely. He ends on a rhetorical question which could interpreted as his lover Maude Gone has ‘flown away’ and left him.

Sailing to Byzantium

Yeats dismisses life in Ireland, vitality of nature and the living world. This poem can offer him no consolation due to his old age. He retreats into his imagination; a mythical idea of city of Byzantium. The worship of immortal art offers a life that goes beyond limit of nature. Yeats at this point has no physical strength or appearance and he feels he can’t escape reality. The poem dramatises Yeats own struggle of old age and death and has an impassioned plea through art. He’s under a cold philosophical point that art is superior to a nature that must die. In his imagination Yeats says goodbye to Ireland and sails to Byzantium. The city represents the best of high and ancient culture. The classical civilisation meant a lot to Yeats as to all great writers. He links poetry to the classical world. Lada and the swan -rewrote methyl, brings parallels between ancient and modern world. Dr Craddock “Byzantium represents an ideal, where art is revered and spiritual wisdom expressed in fantastic sculpture. Yeats Byzantium is totally imaginary – a place where art is treasured and can last. Which makes up for the fact that man must die. It runs through the English romantic tradition. From Blake to Shelly to late works of Ruskin and Morris ending with Yeats. Strong sense of yearning, power an hope. Which comes from fact he desperately wants visit this place. Protagonist in poem is not Yeats but a symbol of Yeats the artist and Yeats the man. God in this poem is less if a Christian God and more of a supreme artist. Yeats half achieves what he desires and he desires exile from world of youth. Imaginative arrival of this place embodies deepest ideas of civilisation, culture and order. The same time paradoxes in the poem, urgency of human and vogues of the natural age are in curious contrast of this poem to sleepy repetitive reality which we are left with.

•Art and Nature – how great art outstrips nature.
•How great civilisation can control nature.
•Schopenhauer called art the flower of existence.

•Strict formal, weighty rhyme scheme of abababcc.

•Reflects the language from the book of The Golden Bough – Frazer in 1922. About cult and magic.
•Language shows the he’s read it.

•Seperate Roman numeral standards. This adds sense of formality.
•Yeats symbolism is similar to Karl Young and similar to Wilde.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’
Part of the collection ‘The wild swans at Coole’ this poem is about an Irish Airman in World War One and the poem mainly focuses on the death in World War One. There are expressions of romantic individuality. And we get the impression that the air man thinks by knowing he is going to die, he is free. The poem is classes as an anti war poem and uses the idea of an airman looking down on life. This independent, lonesome figure fighting for Ireland can be linked to ‘The Fisherman’ as Yeats perfect Irishman is a independent man fighting for Ireland. It is written in first person from the airmans point of view.

The Second Coming

From the colection entitled ‘Michael Robartes and the dancer’ this poem is about Yeats vision of the second coming. When Christ comes to judge the living from the dead. But Yeats sees it as a Nast unwanted creature. Doctor Craddock, “Yeats believes the second coming is not a gently saviours but an uncoils monster” and it is also described as “A metaphor for the new age”. The main themes are chaos, evil, apocalyptic vision, harsh and dark. In 1918 he saw the violence as a new historical phase interpretation of a ruined world. The poem uses monosyllables and the lack of stopping gives energy. There are aggressive and disturbing words used and he links to unstoppable forces such as Hitler. He uses the words ‘Spiritus Mundi’ which links to the spirt world as he believes there is an elements of the supernatural in the poem.

Leda and The Swan

This poem in ‘The Tower’ collection, is about the Greek god Zeus disguised as a swan who rapes a girl. The baby that is born from this rape is Helen of Troy and links into the Greek myths. The main themes of this poem are corruption, abuse of power, war, violence and links to the horrors of the Irish war of independence. The rhyme scheme is every other line. In the first stanza there is violent imagery and a sense of theatrical/dramatic language. There is surprise as the young girl is overpowered by the swan. The use of a colon adds to the effect of shock. It gives the impression the swan is determined in this violent sexual act. The second stanza has erotic language in it as focus on the forcefulness of this power Zeus has over her. The third one is about him taking control and the possible suggestion of him taking her virginity, or that it is a mythical reference to breaking the walls of Troy. It also mentions ‘Agamemnon’ which was a city around Troy. The final stanza questions whether she knows what has happened and understands it. Does she know or just assume. Doctor M Craddock spoke about the poem, “Are humans mere children in understanding beside the Gods or forces that rule the world or history”.