Reason Why Yeats Sounds Unclear

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Yeats, who is the most representative figure among Irish writers, struggled to show the conflict between the nature and art. Studying about Yeats, the most intriguing style of his writing I’ve noticed was his subtleness especially when he depicts this conflict. For example, Yeats, in his poem “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death,” shows this subtleness through the way he depicts the reason why an airman fight, not showing whether the airman is a specific case or just common image of airmen. With this method of writing, he makes his poem be able to expand what it implies.

I began to question why Yeats wrote his poem in this way, conveying various messages, which can be understood in many ways. Undoubtedly the most plausible reason should be the Irish independence, which Yeats spent his life to achieve, but then I had hit upon the fact, that Yeats expected the future of Irish from recovering their own Celtic legends and myths, and in advance, that he noticed that ancient Celtic imagination enabled them to accept surrealistic materials more naturally. Yeats believed that this feature of Celt can gather Irish altogether, and he even married a shaman, who was believed to see ghosts or god. This kind of experience would have inspired Yeats a lot, letting him to depend on the surrealistic miracle, as the independence sounds.

To discuss about the relationship between his subtle writing and this surrealistic tone, I have to mention that surrealistic story is never clear. Since the observer of surrealistic events is always positioned in the real world, their way of conveying cannot be plain, but subtle. As Yeats expects himself to convey the surrealistic sound to assemble the will of Irish, his words should not be clear enough so that it can mean anything, anything that readers can find something common in themselves. If we look into Yeats’ writing with this realization, we may find something new from his subtleness, and I would say that it is a feature of surrealism.


  1. I like this insight! I think you could also interpret this lack of clarity as Yeats empowering his readers to make their own interpretations in response to his poems. Perhaps unclarity may be an opportunity for others to partake in deep thought and struggle to achieve their own kind of understanding.

  2. I really like the way you view Yeats’s poems! I think the fact that Yeats talks so much about balance definitely ties in to your idea that there is a lack of clarity in his writing that allows the poems to be used in many different contexts.

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