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However, there’s nothing at all in the Allegory of the Cave that suggests some kind of merging, much less eggs or some connection to the tempestuous relationship between the poet and Maud Gonne.The only bit of Plato that fulfils You must first learn human nature and its condition.(1937) with a number of inconsistencies found in Yeats’s poetic corpus, with an emphasis on how one might interpolate an escape from the cycle of lives, in at least one possibility while still maintaining corporality.
One finds (arguably) a between-the-lines evaluation of the non-riveting nature of the curriculum Yeats is observing, biographical references that need to be connected to the text (“she” who?
), intertextual references to other poems in the Yeatsian canon (“Leda and the Swan”), and obvious clashes between connotative and denotative value in word choice (“Plato’s parable”) with therein the first of Yeats’s erudite, extra-textual allusions: all stirred together.
To make matters worse, when dealing with metaphysical ideas such as reincarnation that touched upon or stemmed from his esoteric studies, bound by oaths of secrecy, Yeats often pulls up short: unabashedly admitting his refusal to explain himself in any meaningful way.
Consequently, when one asks a blunt question such as “What did Yeats think about reincarnation?
In this way, one finds much beyond the “broad side of the barn” reading of “Among School Children” as Yeats’s thoughts on the unity of youth and age, certainly more than the author’s own statements of “meaning” that “even the greatest men are owls, scarecrows, by the time their fame has come” (Wade 1955, p.
719), or that “life will waste [school children] perhaps that no possible life fulfill their own dreams or even their [sic] teacher s hope […and] that life prepares for what never happens” (Yeats 2007, p. While the initial stanza certainly opens up topics for discussion, the second widens the field tremendously.Likewise, his use of the subject within the poetic corpus is complicated by the fact that it is rarely an explicitly central theme One of the things that I am infamous for among Upper Iowa University’s undergraduates is a week-long writing-about-literature exercise utilizing the text of William Butler Yeats’s “Among School Children.” At a mere 64 lines, the poem is short enough to be fairly non-intimidating, yet dense enough to provide at least five-dozen “Yeats and—” topical questions for exploration.For example, the first two lines—“I walk through the long schoolroom questioning;/A kind old nun in a white hood replies”—easily yield “Yeats and” education, Irish education, private education, Catholic education, one-room-schoolhouse education, the Socratic method (“questioning” in a classroom setting), educational philosophy, philosophy generally, classical Greek philosophy, Platonic recollection (the object of the Socratic method), nuns (and the connotative clash of a “kind” nun), women, Catholics and Catholicism, and youth As a group, the students having already done a bit of biographical research on Yeats himself and the history of the period 1865–1939, we spend four days dissecting the text, exploring the repetition of ideas at various places, and generating various thesis statements that might evolve from initial observations.There are, literaly, thousands of articles, overviews, and book-length studies on almost every influence on Yeats’s , often taking the form of “Yeats and X”: symbolism, the theatre, the theatre of “desolate reality,” the visual arts, the ideal of unity of being, the occult, fascism, Japan, Noh, Sligo, European drama, Nietzsche, Rabindranath Tagore, Anglo-Irish Modernism, W. Horton, Theosophy, philosophy…the list is seemingly endless.Despite the fact that Yeats himself would certainly have deplored such sharp, Aristotelian circumscriptions—attempts to distinguish the dancer from the dance—of what he perceived as a single, fluid unity of thought, such artificial divisions are an unfortunate necessity: the scope of his grand design, like Géricault’s takes in the entirety of time and history in a single, cyclical, discontinuous dream-narrative.have no problem assigning the unnamed “she” to Yeats’s great unrequited love, Maud Gonne.They are often titillated in the discussion that follows to find that the question of whether Maud ever broke down and had pity-sex with the poet is hotly debated at scholarly conferences, and rather appalled to be told the story of the 51 year-old Yeats’s final proposed to Maud in 1917, followed by his proposal to her 23 year-old daughter Iseult, herself conceived in a magical experiment on the tombstone of her dead brother, followed closely by his proposal to fellow Golden Dawn initiate Georgie Hyde-Lees whom he ultimately married on October 20.”, it is often an uphill battle to formulate a straightforward answer—even though the subject was of paramount importance to him, and the focus of decades of research.It would be nice to be able to say, “Read : Yeats’s final word on the subject,” but that problematic, meandering tome is itself fraught with ambiguities and questions.Yeats was a master of framing through the literary equivalent of negative space; what he leaves unsaid or assumed is often more fundamental to his themes than what is concretely shown.He favored rhetorical questions over definitive statements and, based on his years of study as a practicing occultist, espoused the belief that symbols, correctly used, would take on lives of their own in the minds of readers and thereby do half of his work on their own.