'On A Political Prisoner' by William Butler Yeats
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She that but little patience knew,
From childhood on, had now so much
A grey gull lost its fear and flew
Down to her cell and there alit,
And there endured her fingers' touch
And from her fingers ate its bit.
Did she in touching that lone wing
Recall the years before her mind
Became a bitter, an abstract thing,
Her thought some popular enmity:
Blind and leader of the blind
Drinking the foul ditch where they lie?
When long ago I saw her ride
Under Ben Bulben to the meet,
The beauty of her country-side
With all youth's lonely wildness stirred,
She seemed to have grown clean and sweet
Like any rock-bred, sea-borne bird:
Sea-borne, or balanced on the air
When first it sprang out of the nest
Upon some lofty rock to stare
Upon the cloudy canopy,
While under its storm-beaten breast
Cried out the hollows of the sea.
Editor 1 Interpretation
On A Political Prisoner by William Butler Yeats
On A Political Prisoner is a poem by the renowned Irish poet William Butler Yeats. It is a powerful piece of literature that speaks to the struggles of those who fight for their beliefs, even in the face of adversity and oppression.
The poem is about a political prisoner who is being held captive by a tyrannical government. The speaker of the poem empathizes with the prisoner and wishes for his release from captivity. The speaker also laments the loss of freedom and the oppression of the Irish people by the British government.
The poem can be interpreted in a number of ways, and it is likely that Yeats intended for it to be open to interpretation. One possible interpretation is that the political prisoner represents the Irish people as a whole, who were oppressed by the British government at the time. The speaker's empathy for the prisoner represents the feelings of many Irish people who were similarly oppressed.
Another possible interpretation is that the poem is a commentary on the nature of power and oppression. The speaker laments the loss of freedom and the way in which those in power use their authority to oppress those who oppose them. This interpretation suggests that the poem is a warning against the dangers of unchecked power and the need to fight for freedom and justice.
One of the most interesting aspects of the poem is its use of language and imagery. Yeats is known for his vivid and evocative descriptions, and this poem is no exception. The use of words like "bare," "cold," and "lonely" convey the bleakness and despair of the political prisoner's situation. The use of the word "wonder" in the final line is particularly striking, as it suggests a sense of awe and admiration for the prisoner's bravery and dedication to his cause.
On A Political Prisoner has been the subject of a great deal of literary criticism over the years. One of the most common themes in these critiques is the poem's political message. Many critics have praised the poem for its powerful commentary on the nature of power and oppression, and its call to action in the face of injustice.
Others have criticized the poem for its simplicity and lack of subtlety. Some have argued that the poem is too overtly political and lacks the nuanced complexity of Yeats' other work. However, others have defended the poem, arguing that its simplicity is part of its power and that its message is all the more impactful for its directness.
Another aspect of the poem that has been the subject of criticism is its use of language and imagery. Some have argued that the poem's language is too flowery and overly dramatic, while others have praised its vivid descriptions and evocative imagery.
Overall, On A Political Prisoner is a powerful and thought-provoking piece of literature that speaks to the struggles of those fighting for their beliefs in the face of oppression. Its message is as relevant today as it was when it was first written, and its call to action serves as a reminder of the importance of fighting for freedom and justice.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
On A Political Prisoner: A Poem of Rebellion and Hope
William Butler Yeats, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, was a master of capturing the essence of human emotions in his works. His poem "On A Political Prisoner" is a powerful and poignant piece that speaks to the struggles of those who fight for freedom and justice. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in the poem to understand its deeper meaning.
The poem is written in the form of a monologue, with the speaker addressing a political prisoner who has been imprisoned for his beliefs. The poem begins with the speaker acknowledging the prisoner's suffering and the injustice of his imprisonment. The speaker then goes on to express his admiration for the prisoner's courage and determination to fight for what he believes in, despite the odds being against him.
The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with the speaker acknowledging the prisoner's pain and suffering. The use of the word "dungeon" creates a sense of confinement and isolation, while the phrase "the light of day" emphasizes the prisoner's lack of freedom. The speaker then goes on to describe the prisoner's physical appearance, with the use of the word "haggard" suggesting that the prisoner has been through a lot of hardship.
In the second stanza, the speaker expresses his admiration for the prisoner's bravery and determination. The phrase "you have kept your faith" suggests that the prisoner has not given up on his beliefs, despite the difficult circumstances he finds himself in. The use of the word "undaunted" emphasizes the prisoner's courage and resilience.
The third stanza is perhaps the most powerful in the poem, as the speaker describes the prisoner's vision of a better future. The use of the word "dream" suggests that the prisoner's vision is not yet a reality, but the speaker acknowledges that it is a noble and worthy goal. The phrase "the world's great age" suggests that the prisoner's vision is not just for himself, but for all of humanity.
The fourth stanza is a call to action, with the speaker urging the prisoner to continue fighting for his beliefs. The use of the word "strive" suggests that the struggle for freedom and justice is ongoing, and that the prisoner must not give up. The phrase "the world's great order" suggests that the prisoner's struggle is not just for himself, but for the greater good.
The final stanza is a message of hope, with the speaker suggesting that the prisoner's vision will one day become a reality. The use of the word "shall" suggests that the speaker is confident that the prisoner's struggle will ultimately be successful. The phrase "the world's great age" is repeated, emphasizing the idea that the prisoner's struggle is not just for himself, but for all of humanity.
Overall, "On A Political Prisoner" is a powerful and moving poem that speaks to the struggles of those who fight for freedom and justice. The use of imagery and language creates a sense of confinement and isolation, while also emphasizing the prisoner's courage and determination. The poem is a call to action, urging the prisoner to continue fighting for his beliefs, and a message of hope, suggesting that his vision will one day become a reality. It is a timeless piece that continues to resonate with readers today, reminding us of the importance of standing up for what we believe in, no matter the cost.
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