Naru's Happy Travel
DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.14354/yjk.2005.24.81
「1916년 부활절」과 여성*
전남대
“Easter 1916” and Women
,

Abstract
This paper is an attempt to read “Easter 1916,” one of W. B. Yeats's best-known political poems, in terms of its representation of women and the related politics of sexuality. In the second stanza of the poem where the poet describes four rebels of the Easter Rising, he shows Countess Constance Markievicz. the woman whom Yeats knew so well from his childhood in Sligo. Besides her, the writer of this paper proposes the possibility of reading other two woman images in the poem: Maud Gonne and Cathleen ni Houlihan. By discussing these described or suggested images of women, this paper tries to show that they represent the "terrible beauty" which the poet says the rebels of the Easter Rising have generated.
The first woman this paper chooses for discussion is Countess Markievicz. The poet describes her mainly as a woman whose "voice grew shrill" because of her spending "nights in argument," and then compares her present shrill voice with the "sweet" voice she had when she was "young and beautiful." In order to understand the intent of the poet's emphasis on Countess Markievicz's "shrill" voice, the present writer reads one passage from Yeats's journal, where he regards "the shrillness" of voices of "the political class in Ireland" as the result of "the cultivation of hatred as one energy of their movement." In another similar passage, Yeats relates this hatred to "the sexual abstinence, so common among young men and women in Ireland." Based on this reading of Yeats's prose passages, this paper concludes that Countess Markievicz's shrill voice reveals her hatred and her negative attitude to sexual matters.
The next part of the paper deals with two women characters, Maud Gonne and Cathleen ni Houlihan. Although she does not appear in the poem, Maud Gonne is suggested in the poem by her similarity to Countess Markievicz and by the poet's mentioning of her husband John MacBride. To support the presence and importance of Maud Gonne in the poem, the writer of this paper briefly reads two poems of Yeats--"A Prayer for My Daughter" and "Among School Children"--where he describes her in a very similar way to the description of Countess Markievicz in "Easter 1916." Another woman, Cathleen ni Houlihan, is also suggested in the poem, because, in terms of symbolic images, she seems to have led the rebels to the battlefield of the rising. This paper reads Yeats's play Cathleen ni Houlihan to show that she also can be understood in this poem in a negative way: she symbolizes the hatred and its resultant sexual abstinence of the rebels. In this way, like Countess Markievicz and Maud Gonne, she can represent the "terrible beauty" of the Easter Rising.
Lastly, this paper considers another image of woman which appears in the last and fourth stanza, where the poet ends the poem by naming the rebels "As a mother names her child / Where sleep at last has come / On limbs that had run wild." The writer of the paper thinks that the poet needs this image of mother to mitigate his critique of the rebels which he has done in the third stanza, especially by using the image of stone. By becoming a real mother himself, unlike another "terrible" mother of Ireland, Cathleen ni Houlihan, the poet can arrive at a reconciled and balanced position, and accept the rebels in their contradictory and tragic state.

 



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