Poetry from Other Cultures Essay

‘From your reading of the two poems, to what extent do you feel that Yeats though he was living in a ‘Romantic Ireland’? ‘ I have chosen to compare the two poems ‘The Second Coming’ and ‘The Tower’. The Second Coming straight away seems to be extremely Unromantic and negative, giving off a chaotic vibe throughout. However, in The Tower, Yeats tells of a more Romantic Ireland that lies behind what meets the eye. This poem seems much more organised and calm than The Second Coming.

Romanticism is when things are looked at as they should be, rather than the way they actually are. It refers to the ‘Romantic Movement’ in 18th and 19th century art and poetry, which privileged ideas of feeling, love, beauty, nature and the Supernatural over ideas of logic, order and reality. Both of the poems begin with images of negativity. In The Second Coming, the phrase ‘mere anarchy is loosed upon the world’ automatically tells us that the world is going wrong.

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The phrase ‘mere anarchy’ gives us the impressions that something worse than anarchy is coming next, and since this poem was written at the height of the Irish Civil War in 1921 before Ireland gained independence, this implies that the chaos occurring in Ireland will soon affect the rest of the world. Yeats’ use of the word ‘loosed’ indicates that this anarchy has just been unleashed on the world, like a wild animal.

Words such as ‘loosed’ give the poem a chaotic effect as they seem uncontrollable and panicky. There is a very obvious unromantic theme at the start of this poem already, as Yeats is talking about Ireland being completely out of control. Although The Tower starts negatively, it is a completely different kind of negativity altogether, as it refers to “decrepit age that has been tied to me/As to a dog’s tail”.

‘Decrepit age’ tell us that Yeats’ body is falling apart as he is getting old. The phrase ‘tied to me like a dog’s tail’ means that he cannot escape said old age. ‘Decrepit’ gives a sense of dissonance and emphasizes the negativity of the situation. At this point in the poem, there seems to be a lack of Romanticism as Yeats is looking at his life and Ireland in complete reality, which is not very pleasant.