Poems of W.B. Yeats: The Rose

Uniting Body and Soul In Yeats' "Among School Children"

In William Butler Yeats' "Among School Children," the speaker addresses his anxieties about aging. Manipulating traditional rhyme schemes, Yeats articulates the impermanence of youth to examine the need to unify the body and the soul. Although the poem is an Ottava Rima, Yeats incorporates enjambments to illustrate the continual state of meditative wonder throughout the work. Yeats also varies the complexity of each foot as it coincides with subject's perceptions of youth.

The first two lines of the poem foreshadow the speaker's discomfort with his diminished youth. As he walks "through the long schoolroom questioning" to which a "kind old nun in a white hood replies" (lines 1-2), the less fluid use of spondaic and pyrrhic feet by the aged couple juxtaposes the youthful nursery-rhyme structure that describes the children. In strictly iambic pentameter and end-stopped lines, the nun recites the traditional education of the children "to cipher and sing,/ To study reading-books and history,/ To cut and sew, be neat in everything" (lines 3-5). Line 6, however, interrupts the sing-song structure with an enjambment as the gaze shifts from the children to the speaker: "the...

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