S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Institute of Humanities (인문학연구원) Journal of humanities (인문논총) Journal of Humanities vol.08 (1982) (인문논총)
線的인 진전 : 예이츠의 후기시 -비잔티움 항해>를 중심으로-
The Linear Progress: Yeats's Later Poetry
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 인문대학
- 인문논총, Vol.8, pp. 19-37
- "Sailing to Byzantium" has long been interpreted as a quest for a resting place in the "artifice of eternity". As an "artifice of eternity for soul" piece, however, it occupies an uncomfortable place among Yeats's later poems. "Among School Children" (which preceded it) and "A Dialogue of Self and Soul" (which follows it), for instance, are the poems of the "self", and their key motif is "Labour is blossoming or dancing where/The body is not bruised to pleasure soul" (Among School Children). Close reading reveals that the word "soul" takes two distinct meanings in those poems. The most illuminating example shows itself in "A Dialogue of Self and Soul" when Self, after Soul's exit, speaks in monologue that he will gladly endure again the agony that he should suffer "if he woos/A proud woman not kindred of his soul" (my italics). Here Yeats (or the speaker) uses the word "soul" not as a spiritual entity but as the essence of the self. In "Sailing to Byzantium" the "soul" unawares changes itself into "I". Till the end of the penultimate stanza much attention has been given to the soul, 'which demands the subject of the last stanza to be "my soul", instead of "I". But the stanza begins: Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing... The change of the soul to "I"in the poem symbolically heralds the later Yeats whose main concern is "I", not the soul. Seen in this perspective, the progress of Yeats in .his later poetry is not dialectic (as some critics assert) but linear, and "Sailing to Byzantium" occupies the center comfortably among the poems of The Tower and The Winding Stair and Other Poems.