Continuity And Change:

The Poetry Of

William Butler Yeats.






The Life Of W.B Yeats:


The Poetry Of William Butler Yeats:


W.B. Yeats is one of the greatest love poets of all time. Maud Gonne was the inspiration for most of Yeats most wonderfully crafted love poems. Through Yeats’ poetry we can see continuity, whereby his subject never changes, he never falls out of love with Maud Gonne so to speak, rather his attitude towards both her and love itself changes, he seems to give up on ever having her for his own and we can see this change in the way he expresses his love

Initially, Yeats uses imaginative expressions and wonderfully creative images in his poems to

Maud. In ‘He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven’ Yeats attempts to woo Maud .

Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths

Enwrought with gold and silver light

The blue and the dim and the dark

Of night and light and half light

I would spread the under your feet

But I, being poor have only my dreams

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams’

‘He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven’ was published in ‘The Wind Among The Reeds’ in 1899.

However, by 1904, when ‘In The Seven Woods’ was publishes Yeats attitude had all but given up on his dream of making Maud love him. We can see Yeats’ change of heart in ‘Never Give All The Heart’ The last two lines dramatically illustrate this:

‘He that made this knows all the cost

For he gave all his heart and lost’

We can see Yeats broken dreams and fell his heartache when we read these lines.

By 1919, Yeats seems to lament the fact that he ever loved Maud. He laments the fact that every-thing seems to have passed and faded. Maud is no longer the vision of loveliness she once was in the youth. The last verse of Broken Dreams shows us Yeats feelings:


‘The Last stroke of midnight dies.

All day in one chair

From dream to dream and rhyme to rhyme I have ranged

In rambling talk with an image of air

Vague memories, nothing but memories.’

Yeats is a inspirational poet who captured the true tragedy of unrequited love with passion, beauty and grace. We can clearly see continuity and change in Yeats’ style and verses of many of his masterpieces. When Maud Gonne was asked if she felt any guilt at never returning Yeats’ felling, she answered, " If I had returned those feeling , the world would have been deprived of his beautiful poetry"

We have to ask ourselves, which would have been the greater tragedy?

* * *