Easter 1916 : summary

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Easter 1916 is a notable literary work by William Butler Yeats. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Easter 1916.


Easter 1916” is a poem by W. B. Yeats remembering the Easter Rising. It was an armed rebellion in Dublin, Ireland, in 1916. The poem is divided into four stanzas with a total of 80 lines. 1st and 3rd stanzas have 16 lines each and 2nd and 4th stanzas have 24 lines each. The 16 lines originally indicated the 16 people killed in the armed rebellion. On the other hand, the 24 lines originally indicated the day armed rebellion began on April 24. So, it is clear that the main theme of this poem is Easter Rising.

The poem begins with Yeats musing on the various people he knew in Dublin, both personally and through the cultural and political circles. He reveals the contrast between these individuals’ ordinary lives and their extraordinary roles in the Easter Rising.

The poem cites several key figures of the Easter Rising, including Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, John MacBride, and James Connolly. Yeats realizes that many of these figures were concerned with the arts and culture, and he had known them as poets, teachers, and friends. However, during the Rising, they evolved into martyrs and heroes.

Yeats mentions the futility and ambiguity of their actions. He indicates that the Rising was not a clear-cut success, as many of the leaders were executed, and Ireland was not immediately granted independence. He conveys a sense of doubt and uncertainty about the significance of their sacrifice.

The poem also reveals the changing political landscape in Ireland and How the events of Easter 1916 have transformed it. Yeats recognizes that the Rising had a profound impact on Irish history. It revived a sense of national identity and pride.

In the end, Yeats tussles with the idea that he cannot help but admire and respect the individuals who took part in the Easter Rising. He realizes that their actions have left a lasting mark on the Irish psyche and have inspired future generations to continue the struggle for Irish independence.

However, “Easter 1916” is a complex and reflective poem that analyzes the themes of sacrifice, heroism, and the enduring impact of historical events on a nation’s identity and consciousness. It expresses the ambiguity and mixed feelings that Yeats and many others had about the Easter Rising and its participants.