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Forum Home > Poetry > Yeats resources

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

For students and teachers of Yeats there is a number of great resources in print and on the internet.

There are some high quality notes specifically on 'Easter 1916' produced by Yale University available at http://modernism.research.yale.edu/wiki/index.php/Easter_1916

A fascinating insight into the evolution of 'Leda and the Swan' in the Norton Anthology of Lit, vol2, p.2505, 'poems in process'.

A virtual tour of the life and work of Yeats is offered by the National Library of Ireland: http://www.nli.ie/yeats/main.html

I recommend the following critical studies and secondary texts:

The poems of WB Yeats, a sourcebook, ed. Michael O'Neill

WB Yeats, selected poems, chosen by Seamus Heaney (with an interesting introduction)

Yale University lectures in Modern Poetry, by Langdon Hammer, available via YouTube



The lives of the poets, Michael Schmidt - a compendious work, with stimulating and provocative summaries

The poem and the journey, Ruth Padel - a wide selection of poems with short insightful essay accompanying each one.

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November 25, 2011 at 7:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Specifically for teachers, and even more specifically for those teaching OCR 'A' level, there are a couple of outstanding resources, both published by Zig Zag Education. The first is a 'comprehensive guide' to the poetry of WB Yeats, written by Dr Mike Craddock. Wise, scholarly and illuminating discussion of each of the set poems, very well focused on close textual engagement with the texts: http://zigzageducation.co.uk/synopses/4400-WB-Yeats-Comprehensive-Study-Guide-A-Level.asp

The other resource is a SOW on Yeats, jam packed full of exciting activities, teaching ideas and literary information, written by the poet Matthew Curry in conjunction with Neil Bowen. Can't recommend this one enough!

http://zigzageducation.co.uk/synopses/4314-yeats-scheme-of-work.asp

 

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November 25, 2011 at 7:25 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Mike Craddock
Member
Posts: 22

Hello, I’m Mike Craddock and am going to be leading the seminar on Tuesday. I have been teaching Yeats again recently for the OCR AS level specification- a difficult but brilliant collection of Yeats’s poems. I would like us to focus on ‘An Irish Airman foresees his Death’. I have always been intrigued by the persona’s ‘lonely impulse of delight’ ( or is it Yeats’s?) On the one hand the poem looks like an existentialist affirmation of doing as being, free from social conscience, or the trappings of conventional morality. On the other, the poem seems to express a sense of futility, almost a death-wish that make it look like one of the great anti-war poems. What is the force of that label ‘Irish’ in the title ( proudly possessive or ironic?)and what can we make of its contextual references, its biographical links to a real history? Is it an embryonic post-colonial poem, and how does it illuminate Yeats’s ideas on violence and history? Do we see in it an assertion of the ultimate independence of the artist or the delusions of romantic individualism? Are its paradoxes symptomatic of Yeats’s own historical position between romantic and modernist attitudes? Is it a flight to knowledge of the self at the defining moment of death or a variation on the romantic sense of death as a liberation? Like all great works of art it exists, of course, in terms of how we read it- perhaps it is a wonderfully paradoxical tribute to the imagination itself, like Yeats’s dancer at the end of ‘Among School Children’.

I look forward to exchanging views and doing some collaborative close analysis on the poem, and perhaps touching on ‘Among School Children’ and Yeats in general if we have time. In particular, it would be useful to focus on: whether or not the poem is a tribute or an ironic one; its precise use of language form and structure ( the impact of its use of present tense for example); its status as an anti-war poem; exactly what the voice is balancing and the meaning of the ending; and, the different interpretations suggested above. I am sure it would also be useful to think about its links with other poems ( especially as its voice is in some ways unusual) thematically. I look forward to sharing ideas.

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March 25, 2012 at 5:21 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Chrissy Attenborough
Member
Posts: 4

Hi Mike,

Is the seminar on Yeats to be posted on this forum?

Thanks

March 27, 2012 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Site Owner
Posts: 135

We are experiencing a few technical issues at present, but please rest assured we are doing our best to resolve them as fast as possible!

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March 27, 2012 at 2:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Matthew Curry
Member
Posts: 24

I'm liking the slight seance feel. Mr Yeats, are you out there?

March 27, 2012 at 2:22 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Mike Craddock
Member
Posts: 22

Dear All

 

Good evening- hope that the seminar can now begin as I seem to be in at last!

I am looking forward to hearing your views and comments- if you have not given up in despair ! I will put up a few observations at the end of the seminar too.

 

I wonder if anyone has any comments on the form of the poem? Its eight syllable lines, repetitions, rhymes and so on give it a sense of  extraordinary calm.

March 27, 2012 at 2:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

It seems our seminar leader has been abducted by some mysterious, perhaps supernatural, forces. Do any members have any questions they would like to ask about Yeats' poetry. If so, we'll try our best to help :) 

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March 27, 2012 at 2:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Mike Craddock
Member
Posts: 22

It's very rational, logical, stoical in feel in some ways-that word 'balance' is haunting indeed.

March 27, 2012 at 2:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Good to see you've joined us up here in the clouds above, Dr Craddock. Does the poised style of the poem express the noble calm of the airman?


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March 27, 2012 at 2:29 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Mike Craddock
Member
Posts: 22

I wonder if you have noticed how it is all built on opposites- life/ death, but also things like reason/ feeling, rational reflection and impulse/  free will and fate etc. Perhaps these oppositions/ paradoxes/ contradictions express some sense of contradictions in Yeats himself?

March 27, 2012 at 2:29 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Chrissy Attenborough
Member
Posts: 4

I wonder what people make of the references to Kiltartan Cross. I read it as a place in Coole Park and very specific to that place, but would like to know why you think it is repeated.

March 27, 2012 at 2:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Mike Craddock
Member
Posts: 22

I think you are right Neil- it does reflect the noble calm of the airman- but is the poem a tribute or ironic?

March 27, 2012 at 2:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Interesting. So you read the poem as another 'mask', beneath which it is autobiograpical? What contradictions do you think there are in Yeats' sense of self?


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March 27, 2012 at 2:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

MrJoll
Member
Posts: 8

Dr Mike Craddock at March 27, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Dear All

 

Good evening- hope that the seminar can now begin as I seem to be in at last!

I am looking forward to hearing your views and comments- if you have not given up in despair ! I will put up a few observations at the end of the seminar too.

 

I wonder if anyone has any comments on the form of the poem? Its eight syllable lines, repetitions, rhymes and so on give it a sense of  extraordinary calm.

I think the form of the poem gives it a sense of balance and control, reflecting key themes of the poem and the airman's state of mind. The pivotal line "I balanced all, brought all to mind" suggest clarity and rationality, even in the face of death.

March 27, 2012 at 2:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Mike Craddock
Member
Posts: 22

Hi  Chrissy- I seem to be slightly out of step but your comments about the Kiltartan cross  references are interesting. I wonder if Yeats or the voice is idealising a view of Ireland in the poem as he does elsewhere.  It certainly eschews any sense of nationalism even Irish nationalism I feel.

March 27, 2012 at 2:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

kerry loves yeats Marney
Member
Posts: 9

the balance of the plain betwwen the 'clouds above' and the ground below could symbolise yeates feelings of the war, especially after the conscription crisis of 1918..

March 27, 2012 at 2:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr Mike Craddock
Member
Posts: 22

I suppose Yeats is always caught up with the self as something living and dying- the intensity of life and its possibilities set against the fact of mortality - the imagination and transcendence set against human limitation. Here the poet perhaps gets caught up in the idea of the artist soaring above the politics and the war and finding some kind of paradoxical sublime?

March 27, 2012 at 2:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

LaurenMorley
Member
Posts: 7

The pilot generally seems calm through out, but the crucial line "Drove to this tumult in the clouds" suggest danger and disorder, he may be sensing realisation of death.

March 27, 2012 at 2:36 PM Flag Quote & Reply

kerry loves yeats Marney
Member
Posts: 9

perhaps the realisation of the death of 'old' and more traditional ireland?

March 27, 2012 at 2:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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