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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.29 pp.87-107

The Old age, Wisdom and Gyre of Yeats.

Shin Won Chul


As Yeats received the Nobel Prize in 1923, he was in the extremity of honorbut he was feeling his weakening physical power. He gave up Maud Gonne andmarried George Hyde Ridge, a wise woman, to find a comfort at his home. Hislater poems are a record of his meditation and wisdom of life, and in those poemsthe image of Gyre is very important. He thought the progress of one civilizationlasted for only 2,000 years and that is expressed through the image of the Gyre.The period of the early 20th century was a time of a kind of anarchy and asituation of desperation. He thought it was a turning point to a new terriblecivilization. His poem "The Second Coming" is very meaningful in that view pointand so is "Leda and Swan".
Then his self consciousness of his old age and wisdom is well expressed in his"Tower" and Byzantium poems. But his self consciousness is not ended to adesperation but overcome to an immortal wisdom and art. In "Sailing to Byzantium"he sang the immortal art with a exquisite artisan spirit. And he particularly sang theworld of soul and art in this poem. This is succeeded in "Byzantium". It is almosta song of spirit. As he grew old, Yeats concentrated his energy on the problem ofspirit. As T. S. Eliot escaped to Hinduist meditation to overcome the limit of hisearly poems, Yeats made his particular view of history and civilization to enhancehis poetry. If he had not opened his new poetic world in his later life, he couldnot have become that great poet we love so much.

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