Contrasting the Ideas of the Times

In our class discussion “To Ireland in the Coming Times” and “He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” both poems by W.B. Yeats were brought up. In these poems one can see that, among other things, Yeats is making a comment on society and it’s values or who it values at the time. “He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” depicts the gesture of a gentleman laying a coat down for a lady to walk over, and though the speaker is poor he does not have a grand cloth to lay down for the lady, but will lay down his dreams instead. However the manner in which Yeats wrote this poem brings into question his personal feelings about this gesture. The poem is written very formally, but uses the symbol of the speakers dreams to be what is offered at the poems end. In reality, this really isn’t laying down anything at all, symbolically the dreams are immaterial and are just larger ideas. The poem uses poetic language and embraces the uselessness of the gesture the speaker demonstrates, that it is merely a performance of a courting gesture, and that there really is no meaning to the action outside of that realm.
In “To Ireland in the Coming Times” Yeats calls into question the methods in which it was believed a revival of the Celtic culture should be brought about. Though Yeats has written this poem in English he believes it is just as useful to reviving the Irish spirit as any efforts from other poets such as “Davis, Mangan, Ferguson” which Yeats mentions by name in the poem itself. By putting these other poets into his work, Yeats is calling readers to see him as someone who is doing the same thing for Ireland, even though it might not appear like it at first glance.

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