The poetic technique has an important impact on an author’s ability to express their thoughts in a poem. W.B. Yeats is one of the poets who succeeded in properly exploiting different techniques in his pieces to add diversity and value to certain lines and parts of them. The poems The Fisherman and The Circus Animals’ Desertion are great examples of such approaches, as they implement different techniques over the course of their development. This allows the author to sophisticate and emphasizes certain lines in the pieces, applying his imagination and creativity.
W.B. Yeats’ poem The Fisherman reflects the author’s vision of the perfect reader. W.B. Yeats imagines a reader as a simple yet smart man. He detested the middle class at the time he wrote this, but he also did not wish to write for the aristocrats (Yeats, 2017). As a result, Yeats depicts the character of the fisherman as his ideal reader. The poetic voice portrays this ideal reader as a typical Irish man who embodies a heroic character. As a result, The Fisherman conjures up the picture of a flawless man, which is personified as a symbol in the fisherman.
The structure, rhyme, and wording of The Fisherman are all quite straightforward. The poem can be separated into three stanzas, and each has its unique rhyme system. W. B. Yeats uses this basic poetry style to convey the simplicity exemplified by the perfect man he is presenting. As a result, the poem’s structure echoes the idea that Yeats is attempting to convey through the character of the fisherman. The poem takes on an oxymoronic shape when it describes this ideal man as simple and wise, combining wisdom with simplicity to reflect a man who lives in harmony with nature while still appreciating art. The Fisherman is presented as a man who blends in seamlessly with the country’s surroundings and who is connected to his origins and nature while still appreciating fine art.
The fisherman’s character is portrayed in the opening verse. The ideal man, who is a classic Irish, is shown by the poetic voice. The fisherman is freckled, as most Western Irish, and he dresses in the clothing that is customary in his area. The lyrical voice describes how he or she sees this man as he walks up a hill. The fisherman is a part of the environment, as well as his own country. The fisherman has no name, and instead, his activities are used to relate to him. The fisherman is represented as a symbol by this emphasis on activity rather than naming. The lack of grandeur in the life of a fisherman is reflected in the poems. The verse’s structure, like the fisherman’s activities, is unpretentious. The opening stanza has monosyllabic lines with an ABAB rhyme structure.
The poem’s tone shifts abruptly in the second verse. The poetic voice begins to express contempt for the people and the majority of Irish people. It reflects Yeats’ dislike towards the general population. The decent men are said to be dead, while the living men are despised by the poetic voice. There is a feeling of dissatisfaction and wrath expressed for the Irish people as a whole. The ordinary people, according to Yeats, were disdainful of art and, in general incompetent. Here, the poetic voice expresses Yeats’ perspective at the moment by harshly criticizing Irish men. Half rhymes are implemented in the second stanza, sounding discordant and reflecting Yeats’ picture of most Irish men. There is an emotional and rhetorical peak at the conclusion of the verse to depict the lyrical voice’s unhappiness with the actual Irish populace.
This poem’s third stanza establishes a fresh tone. The poetic voice takes on a contemplative and solitary tone. The ideal guy, the fisherman, is once again described, but this time the poetic voice concedes that he does not exist. He begins by “imagining a guy” and then goes on to use the same characterization he used in the first verse to describe the fisherman. The fisherman is detailed in considerably more depth this time in comparison to the first stanza. The poetic voice displays an enormous appreciation for the fisherman’s physical abilities, believing that he can accomplish fantastic things with his own hands; similarly to poets, the fisherman communicates his grandeur in his own talent, fishing.
The poem comes to a close with the lyrical voice’s reflections on art and life. The poetic voice expresses his message via his art and poetry and feels that the language of art is his power. As Yeats, this voice seeks protection against the everyday world, which is well depicted. The poem’s elegiac tone is bolstered with the last lines, which take on additional relevance following the description of the main character – a fisherman – and Irish culture.
W.B. Yeats’ The Circus Animals’ Desertion is a five-stanza poem divided into groups of eight lines, which are also called octaves. Each of them followed the ababacc rhyming pattern, shifting from one stanza to another as the author deemed appropriate (Yeats, 1970). This rhyming pattern, in combination with the lines being composed in iambic pentameter, conforms to the ottava rima poetry form. This is an Italian form that was popularized by Giovanni Boccaccio, who wrote The Decameron. Iambic pentameter and the way it affects the way lines are read should also be noted by the reader; it appears when a line has five beat sets. The initial syllable is short and unstressed, followed by a lengthy stressed syllable. The poem has been broken into three portions as well. There is one stanza in the first segment, three in the second, and one in the third.
The narrator opens the poem by expressing how he has been having difficulty deciding on the topic to write about recently. He believes he is out of all of his subjects and will be compelled to draw inspiration from his own heart and feelings. In the next parts, the speaker discusses myths and plays that he has tried out and how he becomes infatuated with something every time he devotes himself to it. His themes are more genuine to him, and he finds them more appealing than his life. Due to this, as well as his personal need for new content, he will go deep into his soul to discover what it is he genuinely desires to write about.
The narrator opens the first stanza of the poem by saying that he has been looking for anything to write about. He claims that he cannot come up with a topic that would appear to fulfill his desire to compose superb poetry. This journey has been continuous. He’s been trying all he can to motivate himself for a long time. He has decided to retreat within after spending so much time looking for inspiration outside of himself. He must be compliant with his own feelings and heart, and his new muses will be these. He was obliged to make this shift now, although he had never needed to struggle to find inspiration before. It occurred to him— and he wrote his poetry quickly. He had all of his creatures under his care as if he were a circus master. In this case, the animals represent the poem, and he is showing them to the reader by writing and publishing them. The narrator illustrates the breadth of his previous subject matter in the last two lines of the section. He can’t recall all of the characters he’s written about throughout the years, and he does not care enough to even try to do so.
In the second stanza, the narrator, still concerned about his incapacity to create, examines the possibility that he is limited to ancient subjects. He’ll be documenting everything he’s written in order to figure out where he might go next. The sea rider Oisin is the first historical figure the speaker presents to the reader. This figure is based on Irish folklore, which was an important subject for Yeats. Oisin is a figure who occurs in Yeats’ own writing, in the composition ‘The Wanderings of Oisin.’ He is recognized as a warrior and Ireland’s finest poet in Irish mythology. The poet describes Oisin in his life as being full of metaphorical visions set on magical islands. These are recurring themes in Yeats’ other pieces as well.
The speaker, who seems more likely to be Yeats himself, identifies this piece as embodying themes of an angry heart, as do others he has written. These are the kinds of feelings that may have been expressed in antique songs or courtly acts. He has drawn inspiration for his work from traditional lyrical writings. He speaks of his own yearning for his fairy wife in the final couplet of this section. Opposite to what the narrator previously stated, it appears that his personal feelings have always been present in his writings. He wishes he could be in a relationship like Oisin’s.
The narrator then moves on to another subject that he has written about in the next verse. This stanza is about a play called Countess Cathleen. This was, in reality, a play by Yeats, where Cathleen handed her soul, as described in the narrative. In order to rescue the poor, she offered it to the devil. Instead of falling into the devil’s grasp, heaven has interrupted and rescued it. The speaker was enamored with this persona to the point that she occupied all of his thoughts and feelings. He was smitten by a character he invented or by the concept of a lady. In order to wake up, he had to remove himself from the dream.
Another connection to a story Yeats previously wrote about is in the fourth verse. The speaker realizes in the concluding words how simple it is to get caught up in one’s own narrative. He had a strong yearning to flee there and forget about the present. The narrator considers what motivated him to compose about these individuals in the final verse of The Circus Animals’ Desertion. An anaphora is used in this stanza in terms of technique specifics. The myths he’s referring to are old, but the speaker’s method of working is also old. It’s necessary for him to go on from his earlier poems’ tired storylines.
In conclusion, these two poems represent some techniques and their variety in pieces, allowing the author to make specific lines and sections stand out. Yeats seems to use certain techniques appropriately, and they have adapted accordingly to the context and to the emphasis on certain parts of his pieces. Such use of techniques allowed him to create a diverse and dynamic image in his works. It is remarkable how the culminations, their set-ups and outcomes differ in many characteristics, making the pieces unique in their style and rhythm. These poems would not be as expressive and interesting in terms of their movement without such application of poetic techniques by Yeats.
Yeats, W.B (1970). Last Poems and Two Plays. Cuala Press.
Yeats, W.B. (2017). The Wild Swans At Coole. Books on Demand.