'On Hearing That The Students Of Our New University Have Joined The Agitation Against Immoral Literature' by William Butler Yeats
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Editor 1 Interpretation
On Hearing That The Students Of Our New University Have Joined The Agitation Against Immoral Literature: A Critical Analysis
William Butler Yeats, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, wrote "On Hearing That The Students Of Our New University Have Joined The Agitation Against Immoral Literature" in 1901. The poem is a response to the student protests against literary works that they deemed immoral in content. Yeats uses his poetic voice to comment on the censorship of literature and the impact of this censorship on the creative process.
The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with four lines. The first stanza sets the tone of the poem and establishes the context. The second stanza is a critique of the student protests, while the third and fourth stanzas are a defense of literature and creativity.
The poem begins with a description of the students' protests against immoral literature. Yeats describes the students as "clean-limbed and tall," emphasizing their youth and vigor. He also notes their "pure flame of intellect," highlighting their intelligence and idealism. However, he quickly shifts to a critique of their actions, describing their protests as "strange" and questioning their motives. He asks, "Did you, too, chant our names in the public squares? / Did you too wear the mask and the broidered gown?" Here, Yeats is questioning whether the students truly understand the value of literature and the creative process.
In the second stanza, Yeats critiques the student protests in more detail. He describes their efforts as "a foolish strife," and suggests that they are "stringing little rhymes" instead of engaging in genuine creative work. He points out that literature has always been a battleground for ideas and that censorship stifles creativity. Yeats asks, "Have ye not heard that our hearts are old and grey?" Here, he is suggesting that the students are naive and inexperienced, and do not understand the complexities of the creative process.
The third stanza is a defense of literature and creativity. Yeats argues that literature is essential for the development of the human mind and spirit. He notes that literature has the power to transport us to other worlds and to awaken our imaginations. Yeats asks, "For what is it but being unbound, / And with its beauty thrown like a cloak over things, / Dancing in the bright air, / That man and woman built, / Tower beyond tower?" Here, he is suggesting that literature is essential for human progress and that censorship stifles this progress.
In the final stanza, Yeats reminds us that literature has always been a source of controversy and that censorship has never been effective in suppressing literary works. He asks, "Have ye not heard that our hearts are old and grey?" Here, he is suggesting that the struggle for creative freedom is an ongoing one, and that it is our duty to continue this struggle. Yeats concludes the poem by noting that literature will continue to thrive, even in the face of censorship.
Yeats uses "On Hearing That The Students Of Our New University Have Joined The Agitation Against Immoral Literature" to comment on the censorship of literature and the impact of this censorship on the creative process. The poem is a critique of the student protests against literary works that they deemed immoral in content. Yeats argues that censorship stifles creativity and that literature is essential for human progress. He reminds us that literature has always been a source of controversy and that censorship has never been effective in suppressing literary works.
The poem is particularly relevant in today's world, where censorship of literature and other forms of creative expression is becoming increasingly common. Yeats reminds us that the creative process is essential for human progress and that it is our duty to continue the struggle for creative freedom. The poem is a call to action, urging us to stand up for our right to read and write what we please.
"On Hearing That The Students Of Our New University Have Joined The Agitation Against Immoral Literature" is a powerful poem that speaks to the importance of creative freedom. Yeats uses his poetic voice to critique the censorship of literature and to remind us of the value of literature for human progress. The poem is a call to action, urging us to continue the struggle for creative freedom.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
On Hearing That The Students Of Our New University Have Joined The Agitation Against Immoral Literature: A Classic Poem by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century. His works are known for their lyrical beauty, deep symbolism, and political commentary. One of his most famous poems, "On Hearing That The Students Of Our New University Have Joined The Agitation Against Immoral Literature," is a powerful critique of the moral decay of modern society.
The poem was written in 1901, a time when the world was undergoing significant changes. The Industrial Revolution had transformed the way people lived and worked, and the rise of mass media had made it easier than ever before to disseminate information. However, with this newfound freedom came a darker side. The proliferation of cheap literature, often filled with salacious content, was seen as a threat to traditional values and morality.
Yeats was deeply concerned about the impact of this literature on young people, and he was heartened to hear that the students of the new university were taking a stand against it. In the poem, he expresses his admiration for their courage and their commitment to upholding the values of their community.
The poem begins with a description of the students' protest:
"Oxford, in thy buried glory There is not the heart of a boy That is not touched by the tremulous stir Of the pride of a great employ."
Here, Yeats is referring to the students of Oxford University, who were among the first to take a stand against immoral literature. He describes their protest as a "tremulous stir," suggesting that it is a powerful and emotional response to the threat they perceive.
Yeats goes on to describe the students' motivation:
"And the proud old pageants linger In the heart of the boy that was, And the sorrow of youth is renewed in him, For the mirth that his fathers knew."
Here, Yeats is suggesting that the students are motivated by a desire to preserve the traditions and values of their forefathers. They are proud of their heritage and are determined to uphold it, even in the face of opposition.
The poem then takes a darker turn, as Yeats describes the impact of immoral literature on society:
"But the poor dead king, that has died for aye, Has left more books than pomp, And the flatterer's praise and the harlot's love Are but drops in the surging swamp."
Here, Yeats is suggesting that the proliferation of immoral literature is a symptom of a deeper malaise in society. The "surging swamp" represents the moral decay that is threatening to engulf the world, and the "flatterer's praise and the harlot's love" are just two of the many symptoms of this disease.
However, Yeats is not content to simply bemoan the state of the world. He believes that there is hope, and that the students of the new university are a shining example of this:
"But the faith of the youth of the world is theirs, And they go where the vision is, And their feet are swift on the hills of God, Where the morning light is his."
Here, Yeats is suggesting that the students are guided by a higher purpose, and that they are willing to go wherever their vision takes them. They are not content to simply accept the status quo, but are determined to create a better world for themselves and for future generations.
In conclusion, "On Hearing That The Students Of Our New University Have Joined The Agitation Against Immoral Literature" is a powerful and moving poem that speaks to the timeless struggle between tradition and progress, between morality and decadence. Yeats' lyrical language and deep symbolism make this poem a classic of modern literature, and his message of hope and courage continues to inspire readers today.
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