W.B. Yeats Sample Answer & Notes: Personal Reflection and Public Commentary

Brand new, fresh off the keyboard this January 2016...

With the Easter Rising centenary commemoration this year, there is all the more reason to be prepared for a W.B. Yeats question.


The most recent question on W.B. Yeats came up on the 2014 Higher Level paper:


“Yeats uses evocative language to create poetry that includes both personal reflection and public commentary.” 

Discuss this statement, supporting your answer with reference to both the themes and language found in the poetry of W. B. Yeats on your course.

The marking scheme directs examiners to reward references to personal and public reflections conveyed through various images, symbols and descriptive details, themes of politics, nature, transience, art and beauty, effective use of language, etc.


Left to right:
The Proclamation. W.B. Yeats. Constance Markievicz. Patrick Pearse. John McBride. Thomas MacDonagh 
Yeats is one of the most widely quoted poets. This is a testament to his captivating language and timeless themes. The centenary of the Easter Rising calls for a re-examination of his work in a new light. Yeats’s passion for his country and for peace is reflected through many different angles in his poems. He was unreserved in poetic portrayals of his inner conflicts and sorrows. I will explore this statement in depth using the poems The Wild Swans at Coole, Sailing to Byzantium, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, September 1913, Easter 1916, An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, Stare's Nest by My Window and The Second Coming.

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