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An Ecological Reading of Yeats’ Poems

Author WangChangXue
Tutor ZhangLi
School North China Electric Power University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Yeats ccocriticism natural ecology social ecology spiritual ecology
CLC I562.072
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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William Butler Yeats was great Irish poet in late19th century and early20th century. He created abundant works and famous for his poems and also gained the Nobel Prize. His creations came through romanticism, symbolism, modernism and thus formed his particular style after several transformations. Literary critics mainly study Yeais’works on the aspects of symbolism, mask theory, style and themes, while applying ecocriticism in Yeats’poems provides a new method for the study of Yeats. This dissertation will analyze Yeats’poems from the perspective of natural ecology, social ecology and spiritual ecology and thus to explore holistic ecological ideas of Yeats and detect the literary meaning and practical meaning of Yeats’poems.Ecocriticism is a newly developed literary critical method, and in recent years, the western ecocritics put much emphasis on the theory of holistic ecology and deep ecology. Some Chinese scholars researched and discussed the literary ecology and ecocriticism further. Herein professor Lu Shuyuan divided ecology into natural ecology, social ecology and spiritual ecology and researched the ecological elements from the three aspects. Thus he explained the ecology in a more comprehensive way.The main body of the paper was composed of four aspects. First, natural ecological elements in Yeats’poems are analyzed. Several images of plants, animals and views are analyzed in the poems "Into the Twilight" and "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" and some other poems. Poet’s attachment to nature and his hope to return to nature is revealed in these poems. The second part mainly analyzes Yeats’works created during the period of Irish revolution, among which "September1913" and "Easter1916" are selected. These poems reflect the upheaval of the Irish society and the greed of the bourgeois. Besides, attitudes towards the nationalists are explained by Yeats and his yearn for the ecological society is suggested. In the third part,"When You Are Old" and "Sailing to Byzantium" are chosen to explain Yeats’understanding of true love and reflect his pursuit towards the eternity of art and life. All of these reflect Yeats’ ecological idea about the "supreme spirit" and his spiritual ecological ideas are detected. The fourth part combines natural ecology, social ecology and spiritual ecology in analyzing "The Stolen Child" and thus explores the holistic ecological ideas in Yeats’poems.It is really worth researching Yeats’poems with ecological theoretical analysis for it is of both literary values and instructive significance in practice. This paper not only analyzes Yeats" poems from a new perspective, but also benefits to prompt people in modern society to cultivate the ecological thinking in the three levels of nature, society and spirit and thus to create an ecological earth.

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