Explore effects of language, imagery verse, and form
- Consider how it relates to the poem
Easter 1916 is a poem in response to the Easter uprising in 1916, which effected the Irish population as a whole. Yeats writes about the historical events whilst giving a visionary insight into the Irish culture as well as expressing pathos to the rebels who where executed. Within the poem there are multiple conflicts including the personas internal conflict as well as the conflict within the form and structure of the poem.
Each verse within the poem has a different number of lines, this inconsistency could be perceived as representing the changes that had been taking place within Ireland. The poem is 4 stanzas’ long meaning that it is a narrative poem. Each line has a varying amount of words meaning that the poem does not flow freely but starts and stops at different point within the poem. This combined with the rhythm of the poem gives the impression of a war starting and stopping. For example the rhyming scheme of A,B,C,B, is structured and insistent which gives the poem a military like feel. This military mood is enhanced by the iambic rhythm of the poem, which creates the impression that the poem is moving towards something. The structure allows Yeates to give some variation to the poem whilst creating constancy in the language. The conflict between the structure and the language is chaotic much like the Easter uprising in 1916. Considering the context of this poem and the content we can presume that the persona is moving towards a riot after the aftermath of the execution of the rebels.
The persona struggles with inner conflicts, for example he struggles with the concept of a changing Ireland. The persona feels very at ease being a walker of the city and a voyeur. He finds it easy to generalise and observe the public but also struggles to interact ‘polite meaningless words’. The persona is very happy to slightly belittle or humour his ‘companions’ however in the last line the tone changes and the persona goes from being content with his monotonous life style to being thrown into a ‘terrible beauty’. The oxymoron of the words ‘terrible beauty’ signifies both the inner conflict and the Irish conflict. It is the repetition of the oxymoron “a terrible beauty is born” which demonstrates his reluctant acceptance of the rebels heroism accepting that all great things originates in the tragedy of history. Yeates repeats this image as he wants the reader to remember this phrase so that they have a long lasting image in their head to remember, likewise in the Stolen Child Yeates repeats the phrase ‘the worlds more full of weeping than you can understand’ to emphasize the destruction in the world. The alliteration of the plosive ‘b’ sound (beauty is born) echoes the idea of chaos and war because of the abrupt, sharp sound the letter makes. We see this again in Leda and the Swan when Yeates uses the words ‘brutal blood’ to again capture the ferocious yet passionate image. Yeates creates the persona into himself, through staged identity. The persona struggles with being supporting the revolutionaries whilst gently mocking them. For example he sees them as wearing ‘motley’ which conveys the idea that he perhaps thought that the revolutionary’s where almost jesters or jokers.
The persona also struggles with moral conflict, he knows that he should sympathise with the dead but he can’t bring himself to do so. For example he has too much antipathy for John MacBride that he cannot bring himself to utter a nice word about him but merely wrights him of as a ‘drunken, vainglorious lout’. This brutish description of him we