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Arbeit: „Easter 1916, The Partition of Ireland“ by Yeats
The poem is divided into four parts.
The first part (ll. 1-16) deals with the speaker’s relationship to the revolutionaries which are shown collectively. This part is written like a factual report in the Past Tense and Present Perfect tenses.
In the 2nd part (ll. 17-40) the author describes the rebels individually. He does not mention any names, but an informed reader knows at once which persons are meant by “the man” or “the woman”. Yeats only uses the Past Tense to describe the rebels.
The 3rd part of the poem (ll. 41-56) is the most metaphorical part. Yeats does not explicitly refer to the event because he tries to find a general truth for the things happened in the past. He tries to show this general truth by mentioning nature images and by using the Present Tense. The tense also shows that the group’s attitude towards the rising was still the same when Yeats wrote the poem in September 1916.
In the 4th part and last part (ll. 57-80) the author tries to cope with the sense and the significance of the Easter Rising in 1916. Yeats also mentions his personal attitude and raises different questions like “O when may it suffice?”. Yeats tries to involve the reader with the questions and he tries to question the rising whether it was a good thing or not.
After dividing the poem into parts it was much easier to understand what the poem is supposed to show. When it is said that “A terrible beauty is born” it sounds very paradoxical because a new born child or animal is usually something positive. During the Easter Rising and the years after it there was born a new thing and it was even a good thing. It was the Independence of the Irish people from the United Kingdom. Even heroes were created. A lot of people died for their country and their freedom.
But there is also a bad part of this rising. A lot of people died and there is still opposition between the Catholic and Protestant population.
Yeats does not favour the Rising as a whole. He criticizes the Rising in some parts, too.
You can see this especially in the fourth part of the poem (i.e. “too long a sacrifice”, “excess in love”).
The title of the poem “Easter 1916” does not definitely refer to the resurrection of Jesus in the Christian belief. In the poem independence was born and heroes were ma