How does Yeats blend romanticism with modernism

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The Second Coming 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 The Second Coming.


How does Yeats blend romanticism with modernism?

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was a poet who lived in the late 19th and early 20th century. His work reflects a blend of Romanticism and Modernism. Romanticism highlights individualism, emotion, and the natural world. On the other hand, Modernism concentrates on fragmentation, alienation, and experimentation with form and language. Here are a few discussion points on how Yeats blends these two literary movements.

Use of Mythology: One of the ways Yeats combines Romanticism with Modernism is through his use of mythology. He sketches the mythic traditions of Ireland, as well as Greek myths, to show the connection to the past. At the same time, he uses these myths in a new and innovative way. He vastly uses mythology to reflect modern concerns and perspectives. In his poem “Leda and the Swan,” he meditates on the Greek myth of Leda and Zeus.

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

Focus on the Individual: Yeats’s work often investigates themes of individuality and self-expression, hallmarks of Romanticism. However, his approach is distinctly modern. It highlights the complexities and contradictions of the self. His poems often feature fragmented and shifting perspectives. It reveals the instability of modern identity. 

Form: Another way Yeats combines Romanticism with Modernism is through his poetic form. His poetry often employs traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet and ballad. He also pushes the boundaries of these forms by using unconventional rhyme schemes and meter. He also created his own poetic forms, such as the “Byzantium,” which reflect his interest in mythology and the supernatural.

Political Engagement: Yeats was deeply engaged with the political and social issues of his time. This engagement is reflected in his poetry. Romantic poets often use personal or abstract themes. Yeats uses romantic elements to comment on the political issues of his time, such as the Irish struggle for independence. At the same time, he does so in a poetic language that is rich with imagery and symbolism. It reflects his Romantic sensibilities. In his poem “The Second Coming,” he uses imagery to depict the uncertainty of the modern world:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The Supernatural: Yeats believed in the supernatural and often explored occult themes in his work. This is another aspect of his writing that reflects Romanticism. Romantics were interested in the supernatural and the mysterious. However, Yeats also uses these themes with a modern sensibility. He uses them to explore the uncertainties and anxieties of the modern world. 

Conclusion: Yeats’s poetry is a rich and complex blend of Romantic and Modernist elements. He draws on the traditions of the past. He also innovates and experiments with the form and language he creates in his poetry. It is deeply personal and highly relevant to the concerns of his time.