Yeats and the Imagination

For my paper, I intend to explore Yeats’ unique perception of the interpenetration of the past and the present in his poem, “Easter, 1916.” I want to focus my research around various theories of literature, art, and the imagination and then apply them to Yeats’ poetry. I want to demonstrate that Yeats uses the imagination as a means of defining human experience outside the realm of ontological existence. His imagination uses a sym-poeisis where he combines sensory stimulations, temporalities, and realities to comment on the current state of his reality. I would like to analyze this in terms of the political and cultural state of Ireland at the time. Yeats often references Greek mythology to discuss his current experience. By writing about current events with a mythic, spiritual abstraction based in the past, Yeats complicates the cultural emphasis on the need for increasing modernity in the present. Additionally, his combination of realities suggests a spiraling of time in which the past is reflective of the present and future and provides a new understanding of life and death outside of the confines of religion and the belief in the eternal life of the soul in the after life. I also want to explore Yeats’ poetry from the Chthonic figures in Greek mythology. Ritual sacrifice is a large part of the chthonic belief system and I would like to explore more how Yeats potentially uses images of religious sacrifice to communicate ideas of life and death and the Self’s relationship with the earth.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Abigail,

    I think Yeats would be a fantastic choice for you to focus your paper on. The dynamics of his writing from the double gyre to his fascination of all types of mythology will give you plenty to analyze in your research paper.

    – Tyler

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