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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.24 pp.27-56

Old Age and After-life in Yeats’s Poetry

Hyun-Ho Shin


The purpose of this study is to research the relation between Yeats'simagination and the theme of old age, death, and after-life in Yeat's poetry.According to Heraclitus, cosmology is formed aspects of polarity, assuming 'livingeach other's death, dying each other's life.' The world is conceived as oppositionand contradiction, and the human is dual in nature. this dualistic conflict ofconsciousness has become a basic starting point of his imagination.
Yeats recognized the dualistic conflict was an energy of a creative mind and acharacteristic of human nature. It brought about the struggle between inner worldand outer world. This struggle begins with assuming an individual's anti-self opposedto his primary self. To him, the conflict or struggle, endowed with the meaning ofhuman being existence, is the seed of being of unity. "An Acre of Grass," dealingwith the theme of old age, Yeats saw the tragic reality as positive. In spite ofdecrepitude and quiescence, Yeats said 'Grant me an old man's frenzy, / myselfmust I remake.' In Yeats's case, great are art is not merely created out of theconjunction of the artist's mind and external world, but rather out of the artist'sdenial of his primary self and recreation of his mask, the true image of hisantithetical self and a fragment of the Anima Mundi. In recreating this fragment heactually creates a higher order of reality than the visible world possesses.
Yeats conceive death and life are not divided but connected in "Tower", and"Mohini Chatterjee" as accepting positively human tragic condition. Yeats said thatthe wheel or cone of the Faculties may be considered to complete its movementbetween birth and death, that of the Principles to include the period between livesas well in A Vision. In "Byzantium", Yeats deals with the after-life in the view ofFour Principles as seeing the soul after death as living reality. To Yeats, the phenomenon of violence, hatred or passion in this world is prerequisite toreincarnation, a creation of other self or true self. After getting rebirth, Yeats triedto reach profane perfection.
Looking out over the whole of human life, and its prevailing desolation, hetried to find the proper response to life and suffering in terms of gaiety. Yeats'sfinal response to the old age and death here is no longer the horror, but he acceptsthe old age and death as the pain of human being with tragic joy through hisunique imagination.

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