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Yeats's Birds: Recognising the Animal

Yeats's Birds: Recognising the Animal Yeats's use of avian imagery forms part of his turn toward a modernist poetics, particularly in volumes written in response to social and political upheavals, world war, and revolution in Ireland. Yeats's birds vacillate between symbolic presences and literal creatures, but in his most experimental work, he uses the avian to explore the limits of human consciousness and of empathy, epistemological queries central to modernism. Considering Yeats's post-1914 poetry through a less anthropocentric view, this article interprets his engagement with politics and revolutionary action from an ecologically-complex and inclusive standpoint, revealing his more nuanced ethical position at a moment of profound cultural, political, and class-based change. His recognition of an avian other-ness offers both an objective correlative for the opacity of other people, and simultaneously presents a world view that grants birds and animals their own consciousness. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

Yeats's Birds: Recognising the Animal

Modernist Cultures , Volume 16 (1): 24 – Feb 1, 2021

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2021.0322
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Yeats's use of avian imagery forms part of his turn toward a modernist poetics, particularly in volumes written in response to social and political upheavals, world war, and revolution in Ireland. Yeats's birds vacillate between symbolic presences and literal creatures, but in his most experimental work, he uses the avian to explore the limits of human consciousness and of empathy, epistemological queries central to modernism. Considering Yeats's post-1914 poetry through a less anthropocentric view, this article interprets his engagement with politics and revolutionary action from an ecologically-complex and inclusive standpoint, revealing his more nuanced ethical position at a moment of profound cultural, political, and class-based change. His recognition of an avian other-ness offers both an objective correlative for the opacity of other people, and simultaneously presents a world view that grants birds and animals their own consciousness.

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Feb 1, 2021

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