Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium”: The Poetic Process of Impersonal Art

S. Bharadwaj


W.B.Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium” is a symbol of unity combining the realistic, intellectual, emotional and mythical elements into a harmony; the harmony ensuing from a resolution of conflicts or contending claims of his contemporaries, D.H.Lawrence and T.S.Eliot. All sorts of existing critical perspectives on the most popular poem, though they provide “a greatly deepened understanding of Yeats,” are limited to either paraphrasal or aesthetic, biographical or holistic, spiritual or allusive, symbolic or technical level and they fail to read the text in the context of the pre-texts and the texts falling within its texture, in the light of other poems of Yeats and his contemporaries to bring out its totally different poetic structure and its single distinctive quality. This paper adopting an analytical inquiry into rhetoric of the poem, the play of meanings, filiations among meanings and signs, substitutions and intertextuality, strives to uncover the difference within unity, the life-centric poetic process of Yeats’s impersonal art, his paradoxical structure of life-in-death for “perfection of life” of mortal man in contradistinction to his contemporaries’s death-centric structural concerns for “perfect work of art.”


Paradox, Holistic, Irony, Arrogance, Magnificence, Erudite, Inherent and Callousness

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