The Wild Swans at Coole

The Paradox of Conflict and Beauty in Yeats' Poetry 12th Grade

Although the world has evolved in many ways since Yeats was around, his poetry remains significant in the modern era. By simply scrolling through social media, flipping through T.V channels or listening to the radio, we are constantly reminded that we live in a chaotic and corrupted world. Through his poetry, Yeats explores the contradictory existence and nature of beauty within this world as both a catalyst and consequence of conflict. In particular, Yeats explores man’s desire for truth and man’s desire for spiritual transcendence.

In ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ Yeats portrays his personal longing to transcend man’s temporal nature. This poem was written during a time of great melancholy for Yeats. After facing rejection a second time from the woman he loved, he visited an old friend where he observed swans on the lake. Through this poem, Yeats depicts a clear separation between himself and the swans, representing them as “brilliant creatures” whose “hearts have not grown old” and that “passion or conquest… attend upon them still”. This personification depicts an immortality about the swans as they remain youthful and passionate, juxtaposing Yeats’ faded youth. His envy of the swans and longing for eternal youth is emphasised...

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