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Mythology and Symbolism in Irish Literature - Book Report/Review Example

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Mythology and Symbolism in Irish Literature

The main subjects, which Yeats discussed in his works, were nationalism of Ireland, Celtic myths, mysticism and love. But mysticism is for sure the major line of all his creative work. According to his words, 'the mystical life is the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write.' (Foster 1998, p. 34)
Reflecting the background knowledge of Yeats' life will help to better understand why occult and myths became the main subject of his poetry.
The family of Yeats' mother was well-known for their interest in magic and astrology. Yeats' father was against Christianity, which led him to the research of everything exotic and occult. He was also a member of Theosophical Society. (Foster 1998, p. 49) But not simply a theoretic learner he was. He made experiments with telepathy, was a good connoisseur of esoteric symbols and was able to combine this knowledge with his poetic gift.
First of all, Yeats used to speak about his dreams and visions in his poems. Some of these visions were about the life after death, others related to visions coming from history.
"I saw a staring virgin stand
Where holy Dionysus died,
And tear the heart out of his side,
And lay the heart upon her hand" (Two Songs from a Play)
This is an example of Yeats describing his visions based on history.
One of the symbols to be frequently described by Yeats was the symbol of gyres, - the cones which symbolize the subjective and objective parts of the world. When one looks down on gyres, they look like a single circle, which symbolizes the moon and its twenty-eight phases, and thus the beginning and the end of time.
"Though I had long perned in the gyre,
Between my hatred and desire,
I saw my...
The book report Dreaming and Mythologizing as a 'Peculiarly Irish Phenomenon' outlines the sense of mythology and symbolism in Irish literature. The three literary works to be analyzed and used to prove the statement will be: W.B. Yeast's 'Selected Poems', Brian Friel's 'Dancing at Lughasa', and Michael Longley's 'Selected Poems'. The active use of mythology is based on the total reconsideration of the public history, and the facts, which were supposed to be truthful before, are now probable to turn into myths. The destruction of one myth usually gives birth to another one. The first impulse for new mythologizing was given by symbolists. Already at the end of 19th century, pondering over the nature of symbolism as the most significant phenomenon of the new art, Yeats paid attention to the mythological tendency as the real way to return imagination to poetry, thus stimulating its further development by his own creative work. Yeats saw the contribution of Irish literature into modern art in opening new poetic source – Irish myths, which may give the most unforgettable symbols to the new age. The main subjects, which Yeats discussed in his works, were nationalism of Ireland, Celtic myths, mysticism and love. But mysticism is for sure the major line of all his creative work. Irish literature is characterized by wide range of subjects and themes, depicted in the creative works of the numerous authors. But symbolism, mythologizing and dreaming seems to be the most characteristic feature of Irish literary tradition. Mythologizing in Irish literature was the sign of its deep philosophic context, and the striving of authors for perfection. ...Show more
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Summary

This book report focuses upon the question of mythology and symbolism in Irish literature. The author analyzes this Irish phenomenon via studying W.B. Yeast's 'Selected Poems', Brian Friel's 'Dancing at Lughasa', and Michael Longley's 'Selected Poems'.
Mythology and Symbolism in Irish Literature
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