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DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.14354/yjk.2009.32.167
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원고접수일: 2009년 10월 25일, 수정일: 2009년 11월 23일, 게재확정일: 2009년 12월 4일
The Ambivalence in W. B. Yeats’s Later Poetry
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Abstract
This paper aims at presenting the postcolonial aspects of William Butler Yeats’s poetry. The term ‘postcolonial’ means not only ‘the anti-colonial’ but ‘the hybridity’. Leaning on the recent studies such as those of Edward Said, Jahan Ramazani and Homi Bhabha on Yeats and Irish literature, this study investigates the multiple aspects of Yeats as a postcolonial poet.
First of all in this paper, Yeats’s complex reaction to the two consecutive wars in Irish history is examined thoroughly. The two wars accelerate the process of decolonization in Ireland, and after 1920s the country enters an at least partially postcolonial state by succeeding in reaching home rule. Yeats writes two important poems about the wars, “Meditations in Time of Civil War” and “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen.” Because of his familial background as an Anglo-Irish Protestant, the poet is unable to wholly support either side of the conflicts. Whether in the war of the colonized against the colonizer (the Anglo-Irish war), or in the battle between the colonized themselves (Republicans vs. Free State supporters), his position is far from complete support for either party. Just as the speaker of “Meditations in Time of Civil War” feels sympathy for the fighting troops or ponders whether or not to join them, it is not certain as to which side he would lend his allegiance. This lack of certainty and the divided loyalties is another sign of his conflict in the postcolonial position. His dual loyalties are well represented in terms of the features of postcoloniality, namely, hybridity and ambivalence.
During the colonial state and the partially postcolonial state, Yeats’s involvement with Irish politics had never been static or straightforward or comfortable. His writings more often represent conflicted responses to the issues of Irish nationalism and British colonialism. Therefore, his body of work, his political beliefs and his involvement in the anti-colonial struggle require the serious consideration for such concepts as resistance, tension, ambivalence, and hybridity. Therefore, my main contention is that the tensions and contradictions inherent in Yeats’s later poetry can best be explored in the context of his postcoloniality. Yeats’s contradictory and uncertain attitudes and stances cannot simply be defined by leaning to ready-made political labels.


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