He was born in 1865 in Dublin, spent his life between Dublin, London and Sligo. He was son of a painter, John Butler Yeats and he attended the Dublin School of Art. Initially he acquired from Wilde, Morris and other poets the ideas of aestheticism, then he acquired from French symbolists a lyric and evocative poetry and began to talk about love and sadness of time passing with a folksong simplicity. Yeats is the most important figure of the Celtic Revival with his book “The wanderings of Oisin” and “The Celtic Twilight”. He become a playwright tanks to Lady Augusta Gregory, involved in Irish question, and to John Millington Synge, a playwright, then he become the President of Irish National Drama Society and the Director of the Abbey Theatre. When he met Ezra Pound he changed his style, indeed wrote “Easter Rising” choosing the right word, and clear expressions, and won the Nobel Price in 1923, then he died in southern France in 1938.
Easter 1916 is a celebration of Easter Rising, a Irish movement against Britain rule, a symbol of Irish independence, but the tone of the poet is not triumphant. Yeats elaborated a philosophy of the universe in a work “A vision” where he affirmed that everything in the world is connected.
The poem is a celebration of the Easter Rising, Irish revolt against British rule, in Dublin. Here, the poet has not a triumphant tone, but he feels many feelings about this revolt. The poem is divided in four stanzas:
• In the first stanza, with the term “them” he refers to the rebels, they live in Eighteenth-century houses and have vivid faces. The poet’s attitude is to mock them, with polite but meaningless words, he sees them with a sceptical and ironic eye, but at the end of stanza he uses an oxymoron (terrible beauty) with which he admits that everything is changed, and something terrible is coming. This because he thinks man’s life is ruled by cycles, and his actual cycle will bring to complete anarchy.
• In the second stanza the tone is different, is more solemn, because he talks about four persons involved in the Home rule movement, who change their personality, their habitual rules. For example a woman, Costance Gore-Booth who Yeats had known since her youth in Sligo, or Patrick Pearse, a school master and a poet, who wanted to restore Gaelic as the official language in Ireland, Thomas MacDonagh, a Patrick’s friend, very courageous, and finally John MacBride. About MacBride, Yeats says that he is a drunken, vainglorious lout, he is not in good terms with him because MacBride had married his young lover, Maud Gonne.
• In the last stanza he feels pitiful for these men, before the stone is rebel’s firmness, now the sacrifice makes their heart a stone heart. He seems tired, without hopes, men can’t decide when finish the revolution, only a superior force can decide it, and men can just limit to declaim their names like a mother names her children. Yeats is a moderate like we can understand in line 68 (For England may keep faith), he doesn’t believe in fanatism, but he want to give voice to what is happening in Dublin. Then in lines 72-73 (And what if excess of love Bewildered them till they died?) his tone is of understanding, because maybe is the excess of love to bring them to death. He remembers dead people he had known, MacDonagh, MacBride, Connolly, Pearse.
• Clear language to treat directly the subject.
ACCENNI DI EZRA POUND
He started the two movement of Imagism and Vorticism.
The most important principles of Imagism were:
• Eliminate everything useless in language.
• No abstraction, only concrete elements.
• Adoption of free verse.
The most important principles of Vorticism were:
• It’s an anti-romantic movement.
• It’s against middle-class values.
• Adoption of verbal and visual violence.
• Celebration of Energy, dynamism.