BLEST: COHESION AND IRONIC DEFLATION IN SIX SHORT POEM SEQUENCES OF W. B. YEATS (IRELAND)

EDWARD WILLIAM GOGGIN, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation examines the six short sequences that appear in the later poetry of W. B. Yeats: "Upon a Dying Lady," "A Man Young and Old," "Meditations in Time of Civil War," "A Woman Young and Old," "Supernatural Songs" and "The Three Bushes" series. The specific aim of the dissertation is to examine the cohesiveness of the short sequences and to offer as an explanation for their structure a reading that finds the sequences moving towards ironic deflation through apparently inadequate endings. The paper will provide close readings of each series in order to argue that the inadequate closes of the sequences and the ironic deflation they create serve as foils to the exuberance of individuals who have expressed their affirmation or their hope. In "A Man Young and Old" and "A Woman Young and Old" the inadequacy is in the form of tagged on, proverbial wisdom; in "Meditations in Time of Civil War" it is the questionable analysis of one caught in the whorl; in "Three Bushes" the flawed analysis of those trapped in a sexual tangle; in "Supernatural Songs" the flaccidity of disembodied, arcane wisdom; and in "Upon a Dying Lady" the lameness of an unnecessary intercession. These ostensibly inappropriate endings act as tactical measures to return the reader to the words and exaltations that have seemingly been superseded, and also serve to display affirmation and hope in the face of negation rather than merely explain them.^ The treatment of the six sequences stresses their cohesiveness. The introductory chapter presents a general discussion of the sequences, considering why they can be fruitfully viewed together and how similar methods are used to advance similar effects. This initial chapter also introduces the topic of inadequate endings and considers the presence of similarly flawed endings in several poems throughout the corpus. Each subsequent chapter focuses upon a sequence and finds that, when the sequences peter out in vapid remarks, apparent misdirection or fatuous analysis, the strong characters drawn throughout the sequence rise above the final words. ^

Subject Area

English literature

Recommended Citation

GOGGIN, EDWARD WILLIAM, "BLEST: COHESION AND IRONIC DEFLATION IN SIX SHORT POEM SEQUENCES OF W. B. YEATS (IRELAND)" (1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8612857.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8612857

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