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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.71 pp.63-82

Human Participation in the Historical Cycle: Rereading of Yeats’s Annunciation Poems

Yoon Il-Hwan


This paper re-reads the three annunciation poems focusing on various ways in which humans can intervene and participate in the deterministic historical cycle. In Yeats’s historical system, the historical cycle proceeds through interaction with human potential, not just imposed from the outside of humans. In “Leda and the Swan,” Yeats suggests that Leda’s body mediates the birth of Greek civilization as a locus of both human potentiality and historical cyclic process. In “Two Songs from a Play” which announces the birth of the Christian era, he asserts that a human being magnifies his freedom precisely by revealing in all its bitterness the terrifying and rigorous struggle between his freedom and the superior power of the historical cycle. “The Second Coming” touches on Yeats’s convictions that the meanings of the historical cycle, rather than speak themselves, are interpreted and reconstructed from a human perspective and critical mind. In the three annunciation poems, Yeats transmutes the conflict between the historical cycle and human potential—body, existential condition, free will, interpretation, etc.—into reconciliation, which is mediated by the human struggle to rearrange and give meaning to the historical cycle.





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