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Sailing to byzatium

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Yeats explores his thoughts and musings on how immortality, art, and the human spirit may converge. Through the use of various poetic techniques, Yeats's Sailing to Byzantium describes the metaphorical journey of a man pursuing his own vision of eternal life as well as his conception of paradise.

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Sailing to byzatium

  1. 1. SAILING TO BYZANTIUM
  2. 2. The poem uses a journey to Constantinople (Byzantium) as a metaphor for a spiritual journey. Yeats explores his thoughts and musings on how immortality, art, and the human spirit may converge. Through the use of various poetic techniques Yeats describes the metaphorical journey of a man pursuing his own vision of eternal life as well as his conception of paradise. Sailing to Byzantium written in 1926 is an emphatic reminder of the poet’s keen interest in that historic city of Eastern Empire and the significance of art and culture. About the Poem:
  3. 3. “That is no country for old men The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees” The speaker, referring to the country (Ireland) that he has left, says that it is not the country for old men; it is full of youth and life, with the young lying in one another’s arms, birds singing in the trees, and fish swimming in the waters. “An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless” An old man, the speaker says, is a “paltry thing,” merely a tattered coat upon a stick, unless his soul can clap its hands and sing; and the only way for the soul to learn how to sing is to study monuments. “And therefore I have sailed the seas and come To the holy city of Byzantium” the speaker has sailed the seas and come to the holy city of Byzantium. The speaker addresses the sages standing in the gold mosaic of a wall and asks them to be his soul’s “singing-masters.” Summary:
  4. 4. He hopes the Saints will consume his heart away and wishes to be gathered into the artifice of eternity. The speaker says that once he has been taken out of the natural world, he will no longer take his “bodily form” from any “natural thing,” but rather will fashion himself as a singing bird made of hammered gold, such as Grecian goldsmiths make to keep a drowsy Emperor awake, or set upon a tree of gold to sing to the lords and ladies of Byzantium. Poet says that once he is out of the cycle of nature, (being begotten, born and dying) he will seize contact with natural things-the physical world. The poet’s song will be different from the sensual music of the dying generations and he will sing of the monuments of unageing intellect. Summary...
  5. 5. In the metrical form, Sailing to Byzantium follows an Ottava Rima stanza pattern. Form: The four eight-line stanzas takes a very old verse form: they are metered in iambic pentameter, and rhymed ABABABCC, two trios of alternating rhyme followed by a couplet. Yeats, however, modifies the form to suit his own purpose, using ten syllables instead of the original eleven and using slant rhymes instead of exact ones. Metrically, each is quite complicated; the lines are loosely iambic, with the first, second, third, fifth, and eighth lines in pentameter, the fourth line in tetrameter, and the sixth and seventh line in trimeter, so that the pattern of line-stresses in each stanza is 55545335.
  6. 6. Critical Analysis: Sailing to Byzantium is one of Yeats’s most inspired works, and one of the greatest poems of the twentieth century. Written in 1926 and included in Yeats’s greatest single collection, 1928’s The Tower. Yeats gave definitive statement about the agony of old age and the imaginative and spiritual work required to remain a vital individual. He hopes the sages will appear in fire and take him away from his body into an existence outside time, where, like a great work of art he could exist. He declares that once he is out of his body he will never again appear in the form of a natural thing; rather, he will become a golden bird, sitting on a golden tree, singing of the past, the present and the future.
  7. 7. A fascination with the artificial as superior to the natural is one of Yeats’s most prevalent themes. The speaker expresses a longing to re-make the world and thereby eliminate its ugliness and imperfection. The speaker sees deep spiritual truth in his assumption of artificiality; he wishes his soul to learn to sing, and transforming into a golden bird is the way to make it capable of doing so. Its main theme is the triumph of art over death. The poet sails to Byzantium, portrayed as a city where art and religion predominate, and aging sages and poets and musicians can make works of everlasting beauty. The tone is simultaneously elegiac (in its treatment of age) and triumphant (in its praise of art). Critical Analysis…
  8. 8. Yeats made its significance clear in a script he wrote for a BBC radio broadcast in 1931: “I am trying to write about the state of my soul, for it is right for an old man to make his soul, and some of my thoughts about that subject I have put into a poem called ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. When Irishmen were illuminating the Book of Kells, and making the jeweled croziers in the National Museum, Byzantium was the centre of European civilization and the source of its spiritual philosophy, so I symbolize the search for the spiritual life by a journey to that city”. Why Byzantium?
  9. 9. The Byzantine Greeks (or Byzantines) were a medieval Greek-speaking Orthodox Christian people. They were the main inhabitants of the lands of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire), of Constantinople and Asia Minor (modern Turkey) . Throughout the Middle Ages, the Byzantine Greeks self-identified as ’Romans’, but are referred to as ‘Byzantines’ and ‘Byzantine Greeks’ in modern historiography. The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, which had been founded as Byzantium). Constantine became emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire in 306. He built a new capital city, called Constantinople. The Byzantine Empire:
  10. 10. The poem is one of Yeats’s finest, and is worth the effort to analyse and unpick his difficult imagery and symbolism. One of the great meditations on ageing and wisdom, Sailing to Byzantium is elusive and even mystical, but the entire better for it. Yeats in his poem explains bout the domes, mosaics and enamel work of Hagia Sophia as pure art divorced from nature and removed from time and space. Yeats’s Images: Yeats’s images require further analysis for instance, the final stanza with its image of the gold singing bird , Yeats himself recalled that he had read somewhere that in the Emperor’s palace at Byzantium was a tree made of gold and silver, and artificial birds that sang. ‘Golden bough’ is also a loaded phrase.
  11. 11. Following are examples of figures of speech in the poem. Alliteration Repetition of consonant sounds Line 4: The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Line 5: Fish, flesh, or fowl, Apostrophe Addressing an abstraction or a thing, present or absent; addressing an absent entity or person; addressing a deceased person. Line 17: O sages standing in God's holy fire Metaphor Line 8: Monuments of unageing intellect. Comparison of old men to monuments Lines 9-10: Comparison of an old man's skin to a tattered coat and his skeleton to a stick. Labyrinth definition: In classical mythology, a vast maze on the island of Crete. The great inventor Daedalus designed it, and the king of Crete kept the Minotaur in it. Figures of Speech:
  12. 12. Symbolism: The use of symbolism is very important throughout the poem. The title of the poem contains 2 important symbols: (a) Sailing which depicts a metaphorical journey and gives substance and a physical aspect to what Yeats is trying to achieve. (b) Byzantium symbolizes a world of artistic magnificence and permanence, conjuring up in the mind of the reader, a rich and inclusive culture such as that associated with the Byzantium Empire. The images of birds, fish and young lovers used by Yeats in the first stanza symbolises transience and mortality. Yeats highlights this aspect of the world he lives in, so that the world which he seeks i.e. Byzantium, becomes more clearly focused. In the second stanza Yeats uses the symbol of a scarecrow to represent the decrepitude of old age. The scarecrow is a repulsive lifeless image symbolising everything that Yeats wants to reject in his mortal existence.
  13. 13. The symbol of music and song runs through the poem providing a unified motif between the worlds of intellect and sensual worlds. In the opening stanza the song is that of the birds in the trees, a sensual though transient song. In the second stanza he projects an image of “a singing school” a suggestion that the joy experienced in this artistic paradise is more comparable than the joy of song. In the final stanza the song of the golden bird which entertains the lords and ladies of Byzantium represents the intellectual joy to be experienced by Yeats. The golden bird of the final stanza is a chosen image of the permanent form Yeats wishes to take, in essence it represents durability which one associates with the quality of gold, by virtue of its physical permanence there is the understood contribution of its song, thereby providing what Yeats hopes will be the representation of the artistic existence he yearns for. Symbolism...
  14. 14. Theme: Yeats wrote sailing to Byzantium in order to emphasis beauties of art. Allegory: Allegory of this poem is an allegory for the turning away from the body and nature to the soul and art. And, just as the first stanza conveys a rich sense of the fecundity if nature, so the second stanza communicates on enormous intellectual excitement, as in the vivid images of the old man as a scarecrow and the soul clapping each hands and singing. Paradox: The poet wishes to be out of nature (dead), imaging himself as an artificial bird, yet paradoxically the subject of the golden bird's song is time and the natural process. Metaphors: “No country for old men” (Geographic metaphor). “An aged man” is but paltry thing: poet compares himself to the scarecrow. “And fastened to a dying animal” poet compares himself to a dead animal.
  15. 15. Assistant Professor, Indo -American College, Cheyyar. Available @ : 9751660760 E-mail: rajmohan251@gmail.com Thank You

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