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History and the Poet’s Dream: A Study of Yeats’s “Meditations in Time of Civil War”

Kyungsoo Lee

Abstract

“All noble things are the result of warfare; great nations and classes, of warfarein the visible world, great poetry and philosophy, of invisible warfare, the divisionof mind within itself" said Yeats. Warfares between thesis and antithesis, whethervisible or invisible, lie at the heart of Yeats's poetic world, enabling the poet tocreate the enormously powerful poetic text.
In “Meditations in Time of Civil War”, both visible and invisible warfares areoverlapped each other, intensifying the division of the poet's own mind, revealingthe bitter agony of the poetic self to criticize and remake itself. This poemdramatizes a story of the poet's self-criticism and self-recreation through the warfarebetween History, the Irish Civil War, and the poet's dream as a cultural nationalistto re-establish and preserve the Irish identity.
In “Ancestral Houses”, the poet dreams to redeem the eighteenth-centuryAnglo-Irish aristocratic ideals for making the unitary Irish mind, only to realize itsimpossibility. In “My House" through “My Descendants”, the poet seeks tore-establish the Irish identity in his own sanctuary, Thoor Ballylee, through thepoetic task to break “the symbolic rose" into flower, only to fail in it, for he hasexcluded and suppressed History, the Irish Civil War, from his mind. The poet'sdream is broken up.
In “The Road at My Door" and “The Stare's Nest by My Window", the poetencounters the Civil War face to face, struggling to transform its violence andbitterness into ‘sweetness' and pursuing his dream once more, but it's far from beingrealized. In “I see Phantoms of Hatred and of the Heart's Fullness and of theComing Emptiness", the poet internalizes the violent and bitter Irish historical realities through his vigorous imagination, severely criticizing himself as a solitaryPlatonist and remaking his poetic self a more solid one. In “The Tower", writtennext to this poem, we can meet the enormous power of his recreated poetic self.

역사현실과 시인의 꿈: 예이츠의 「내전기의 명상」 연구

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