Naru's Happy Travel
DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.14354/yjk.2004.22.43
문학과 성, 그리고 정치: 예이츠의 초기 시를 중심으로*
전남대
Literature, Sex, and Politics: A Reading of Yeats's Early Poetry
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Abstract
Aiming to understand the poetry of W. B. Yeats in terms of gender, sexuality, and politics, this paper reads some major poems of his early years. The first part of the paper reads the poems in which the masculine world of war, science, and political power is negated in favor of the feminine world of nature, poetry, and wisdom. The present writer of the paper considers that the femininity of these poems, expressed in the pastoral world of the shepherd, or the stories of Irish legendary King Goll, Fergus, and the fairyland, comes from Yeats's poetic attempt to surmount the British imperial and materialistic world by enhancing the Irish cultural traditions and values.
The next part reads a group of poems which deal with Yeats's love of Maud Gonne. Using the image of the rose or the courtly genre, both of them being old traditional poetic conventions, the poet represents Maud Gonne either as a goddess of eternal beauty or a woman of heroic nobility. However, she is also represented as a woman of "lonely face" and "pilgrim soul," a woman who brings "the sorrow of love," or a woman repeatedly associated with the tragic world of Troy. This ambivalence or double vision in the poet's representation of her seems to result form Yeats's ambiguous attitude to Maud Gonne and her revolutionary and social work.
The last part of the paper deals with two poems and a play which represent Ireland as a woman. The use of a woman figure as symbolic image of Ireland, especially Yeats's use of Cathleen ni Houlihan in his poetry and drama, is important, because it most distinctively reveals the relations between sexual politics and aesthetic value in the early poetry of Yeats. In this respect, the writer of this paper notes that the woman figure in these works is a highly romanticized and idealized one, rather than a real one with human body and sexual desire, and thinks that this is related to Yeats's version of Iriish nationalism with its strengths and limitations.

 



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