'September 1913' by William Butler Yeats
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Responsibilities1914What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone?
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
For whom the hangman's rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain,
You'd cry, 'Some woman's yellow hair
Has maddened every mother's son':
They weighed so lightly what they gave.
But let them be, they're dead and gone,
They're with O'Leary in the grave.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Rebellion in Words: A Critical Analysis of W.B Yeats' September 1913
It was the year 1913 when the world was at an exciting yet unpredictable stage. The Irish poet William Butler Yeats had just penned a poem that would change the course of Irish literature and politics forever. September 1913, a poem that depicts the poet's disdain for the bourgeoisie, was a bold statement that challenged the conventional norms of his time. In this essay, we shall delve into the poem's historical context, its literary devices, interpretation, and critical analysis.
Yeats wrote September 1913 at a time when Ireland was undergoing social and political transformations. The country was divided into two factions: the Nationalist movement that sought independence from the British empire and the Unionist movement that wanted to remain loyal to the Crown. The Nationalists were made up of the working-class, poor farmers, and the urban poor, while the Unionists were mainly the wealthy Anglo-Irish landowners and industrialists.
The poem's title, September 1913, refers to a significant event that happened that year. On September 28, 1913, the Dublin Lockout began. This was a labor dispute between the workers and employers in Dublin. The Lockout lasted for seven months, and over 20,000 workers were left without income. Yeats was appalled by the employers' behavior and the government's inaction, and he wrote September 1913 as a response to the social and political climate of his time.
Yeats' September 1913 is a poem that combines different literary devices to convey its message. One of the most prominent devices is irony. The poem is ironic in that Yeats uses the same words that the bourgeoisie used to glorify themselves to criticize them. For instance, in the opening lines, Yeats writes, "What need you, being come to sense / But fumble in a greasy till." This line is ironic because it undermines the bourgeoisie's supposed intelligence and sophistication by portraying them as greedy and corrupt.
Another literary device that Yeats employs is repetition. The poet repeats the phrase, "Romantic Ireland's dead and gone / It's with O'Leary in the grave," throughout the poem. This repetition emphasizes the poet's belief that the Nationalist movement had lost its way and that the romantic ideals of Ireland's past were no longer achievable.
Yeats' September 1913 is a complex poem that can be interpreted in different ways. One interpretation is that the poem is a critique of the bourgeoisie and their greed. The poem portrays the bourgeoisie as people who have lost touch with their humanity and are solely driven by monetary gain. Yeats' use of irony and repetition highlights the contrast between the bourgeoisie's supposed sophistication and their corrupt behavior.
Another interpretation of the poem is that it is a call to action for the working-class and the poor to unite and fight against the bourgeoisie. The repetition of the phrase, "Romantic Ireland's dead and gone," can be seen as a call to revive the Nationalist movement's ideals and fight for Ireland's independence.
Yeats' September 1913 is a poem that challenges the bourgeoisie and their values. The poem's irony and repetition serve to criticize the bourgeoisie's greed and corruption. The poem's historical context is essential in understanding its message. The Dublin Lockout was a significant event that contributed to the poem's creation. Yeats was appalled by the employers' behavior and the government's inaction, and he wrote September 1913 as a response to the social and political climate of his time.
The poem's message is still relevant today. The world still struggles with social and economic inequality, and the bourgeoisie's greed is still a prevalent issue. The poem's call for unity and action is also still relevant. In today's world, people must come together to fight against injustice.
In conclusion, Yeats' September 1913 is a powerful poem that challenges the bourgeoisie and their values. The poem's irony and repetition serve to criticize the bourgeoisie's greed and corruption. The poem's historical context is essential in understanding its message, and its call for unity and action is still relevant today.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
William Butler Yeats’ “September 1913” is a poem that captures the essence of Ireland’s political and social climate during the early 20th century. The poem was written in response to the Dublin Lockout of 1913, a significant event in Irish history that saw workers protesting against their employers for better working conditions and wages. Yeats’ poem is a scathing critique of the wealthy and powerful in Ireland who he believed were responsible for the suffering of the working class.
The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with four lines. The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with Yeats expressing his disgust at the wealthy elite who he believes are responsible for the plight of the working class. He writes, “What need you, being come to sense, / But fumble in a greasy till / And add the halfpence to the pence / And prayer to shivering prayer, until / You have dried the marrow from the bone?” (lines 1-5). Here, Yeats is addressing the wealthy merchants and business owners who he believes are exploiting their workers for their own gain. He accuses them of being greedy and heartless, caring only about their own profits and not the well-being of their employees.
The second stanza continues this theme, with Yeats describing the workers who are suffering as a result of the actions of the wealthy elite. He writes, “For this Edward Fitzgerald died, / And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone, / All that delirium of the brave? / Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone, / It’s with O’Leary in the grave” (lines 6-10). Here, Yeats is referencing the Irish revolutionaries who fought for the independence of Ireland. He suggests that their sacrifices were in vain, as the Ireland they fought for no longer exists. The workers who are suffering are the descendants of those who fought for Irish independence, and Yeats is suggesting that their struggle is a continuation of the fight for freedom that their ancestors began.
The third stanza is perhaps the most scathing of all, with Yeats directly addressing the wealthy elite and their lack of empathy for the working class. He writes, “Yet they were of a different kind, / The names that stilled your childish play, / They have gone about the world like wind, / But little time had they to pray / For whom the hangman’s rope was spun” (lines 11-15). Here, Yeats is referencing the Irish revolutionaries once again, suggesting that the wealthy elite have forgotten the sacrifices that were made for the freedom of Ireland. He accuses them of being selfish and ignorant, caring only about their own wealth and power.
The final stanza is a call to action, with Yeats urging the people of Ireland to rise up against the wealthy elite and fight for their rights. He writes, “We knew their dream; enough / To know they dreamed and are dead; / And what if excess of love / Bewildered them till they died? / I write it out in a verse – / MacDonagh and MacBride / And Connolly and Pearse / Now and in time to be, / Wherever green is worn, / Are changed, changed utterly: / A terrible beauty is born” (lines 16-24). Here, Yeats is referencing the leaders of the Easter Rising, a rebellion against British rule in Ireland that took place in 1916. He suggests that their sacrifice has led to the birth of a new Ireland, one that is willing to fight for the rights of the working class.
In conclusion, “September 1913” is a powerful poem that captures the political and social climate of Ireland during the early 20th century. Yeats’ scathing critique of the wealthy elite and their exploitation of the working class is a call to action for the people of Ireland to rise up and fight for their rights. The poem is a reminder of the sacrifices that were made for the freedom of Ireland, and a warning against forgetting the struggles of the past.
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