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.

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

Structure
•Strict formal, weighty rhyme scheme of abababcc.

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

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

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