Article

What is past, or passing, or to come": Engaging Yeatsian temporality in "easter 1916

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Abstract

This article examines W. B. Yeats's "Easter 1916" through an interpretative lens of Yeatsian temporality and discusses how such a lens maps the ways in which Yeats commemorates the Easter Rising by both Questioning and affirming it - how to elegize the same people who had up to then been the object of his contempt and how to revise the ways in which he was making sense of contemporary Ireland. To that end, I first look into how the modernist temporality as belated reinvention of the archaic and the classical order meets up with the Yeatsian "belatedness" deeply rooted in the Irish literary tradition. I ultimately explores how the two voices, embedded within the poem in a ventriloquist fashion, both contest and complement each other and how this ventriloquism is simultaneously predicated upon the "belatedness" of Yeatsian poetics that cuts back and forth between the poet's personal urge to make sense of the contemporary historical event and the bardic tradition that constantly returns in its engagement with the present, thereby bring into focus the poet's self-divisive ambivalence and conflicting impulses. Copyright © 2009 by Forum for World Literature Studies. All rights reserved.

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