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06 yeats wild swans at coole

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06 yeats wild swans at coole

  1. 1. The Wild Swans at Coole W.B. Yeats Written 1916.Published in ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ (1917)
  2. 2. Ballad like lament for a lost Ireland. Existential lyric of love and loss. Simple lyric of romantic yearning. Mannered, magical lyric on a Pastoral poem searching for disappearing world. a mythical peace.Q. Which poems do these lines best summarise? What can we see by way ofconnection between these descriptions?
  3. 3. The Wild Swans at Coole (1916)The trees are in their autumn beauty,The woodland paths are dry,Under the October twilight the waterMirrors a still sky;Upon the brimming water among the stones 5Are nine and fifty swans.The nineteenth Autumn has come upon meSince I first made my count;I saw, before I had well finished,All suddenly mount 10And scatter wheeling in great broken ringsUpon their clamorous wings.
  4. 4. I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,And now my heart is sore.All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight, 15The first time on this shore,The bell-beat of their wings above my head,Trod with a lighter tread.Unwearied still, lover by lover,They paddle in the cold, 20Companionable streams or climb the air;Their hearts have not grown old;Passion or conquest, wander where they will,Attend upon them still.But now they drift on the still water 25Mysterious, beautiful;Among what rushes will they build,By what lake’s edge or poolDelight men’s eyes, when I awake some dayTo find they have flown away? 30
  5. 5. The poem is set in Coole (Cuil) Park, Co. Galway (Gaillimh), home of Lady Gregory who was a patron and friend of Yeats. (See notes on September 1913) Yeats was 51 when he wrote this poem. He had first met Maud Gonne in 1889 (aged 24) and proposed to her in 1891, 1894, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1908, asking her for the last time in 1916. He first visited Coole Park in 1897 (aged 32), having began a year long affair with Mrs Olivia Shakespear in1896. He eventually married, in 1917, Georgie Hyde-Lees who was 26 but only after being rejected by IseultGonne (Maud’s daughter!) earlier that year who was 23 at the time.
  6. 6. Yeats’s WomenGeorgie Hyde-Lees Olivia Shakespear Maud Gonne He said of his relationship with Gonne that he was ‘involved in a miserable love affair that had, but for one brief interruption, absorbed my thoughts for years past and would for some years yet.’ Q. Who do you think this poem is about? Maud Gonne? Or Iseult? Olivia Shakespear? Or Georgie? Iseult Gonne
  7. 7. The Wild Swans at Coole (1912)The trees are in their autumn beauty,The woodland paths are dry,Under the October twilight the waterMirrors a still sky;Upon the brimming water among the stones 5Are nine and fifty swans.The nineteenth Autumn has come upon meSince I first made my count;I saw, before I had well finished,All suddenly mount 10And scatter wheeling in great broken ringsUpon their clamorous wings. Q. This was the original arrangement of theBut now they drift on the still water 25Mysterious, beautiful; stanzas. How does thisAmong what rushes will they build, change the tone of theBy what lake’s edge or poolDelight men’s eyes, when I awake some day poem? How does itTo find they have flown away? 30 change the meaning?I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,And now my heart is sore.All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight, 15The first time on this shore,The bell-beat of their wings above my head,Trod with a lighter tread.Unwearied still, lover by lover,They paddle in the cold, 20Companionable streams or climb the air;Their hearts have not grown old;Passion or conquest, wander where they will,Attend upon them still.
  8. 8. ‘My soul is an enchanted boat ‘His most classically perfect love poem.’Which, like the swan, doth float.’ (Greening 2005)PB Shelley ‘Prometheus Unbound’ (1820) II.V. lines 72-73‘At the end of the poem is he dreaming now or still asleep? Is hereliving his dream of poetic fulfilment with hope? Or despair at his lossof creativity? Or fear of death?’ (Greening 2005) ‘Yeats’s syntax here isThe swans are quietly made into symbols of permanence, plain, but not colloquial, likefeeling, inspiration, ready to delight other men’s eyes a formal conversation…’when they have deserted Yeats. The desertion isimagined but feared upon awakening from his sleep, hisreverie, his obsession.’Richard Ellmann ‘Yeats: The Man and the Mask’ (1985) ‘I would that, we were, my beloved, white birds on the foam of the sea; We tire of the flame and meteor, before it can fade and flee;’ WB Yeats ‘The White Birds’ (1893)Q. Write a short paragraph explaining how each of these quotes relate or helpcontextualise your understanding of the poem ‘The Wild Swans at Coole.’

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