“Speech delighted with its own music”: Birds as Symbols of the Creative Process in the Poetry of W.B. Yeats and Edward Thomas

Agnieszka Kallaus

University of Rzeszów, Poland

Agnieszka Kallaus. Graduated from Warsaw University in 1995, having written the M.A thesis on the image of dancer in W.B. Yeats’s poetry. It was reviewed by Professor Jacek Wiśniewski, who then supervised her Ph.D. dissertation on the myth and ritual in the dramatic and theatrical output of W.B. Yeats and Jerzy Grotowski, defended at Warsaw University in 2006. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Studies at the University of Rzeszów. Her main research areas include contemporary Anglophone and Polish drama and theatre.


https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9354-9179


Abstract

The article focuses on the symbolic meanings of birds in selected verse of two distinguished 20th century English language poets—William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) and Edward Thomas (1878–1917). There have been hardly any critical attempts to compare their creative output, despite Thomas’s reviews of Yeats’s works which prove a strong impact of Yeats’s style and sensibility on Thomas’s mind. Here, a comparative analysis is offered of bird symbolism in “The Wild Swans at Coole” (1917) by W.B. Yeats and “The Unknown Bird” (1915) by Edward Thomas, where both poets use birds as symbols of the creative process. In their reliance on symbols, they draw heavily on Romantic dialectic to resolve the inner conflict in consciousness and bridge the gap between the poetic self and the natural world. Also, the article is intended to show the impact of Romantic sensibility on the poets’ original styles, which confronts tradition with modernity.

Keywords:

William Butler Yeats, Edward Thomas, bird symbolism, creative process, Romantic sensibility, modernism, swans, birds

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Published
2023-10-20


Kallaus, A. (2023) “‘Speech delighted with its own music’: Birds as Symbols of the Creative Process in the Poetry of W.B. Yeats and Edward Thomas”, Crossroads. A Journal of English Studies, 41, pp. 16–34. doi: 10.15290/CR.2023.41.2.02.

Agnieszka Kallaus 
University of Rzeszów, Poland

Agnieszka Kallaus. Graduated from Warsaw University in 1995, having written the M.A thesis on the image of dancer in W.B. Yeats’s poetry. It was reviewed by Professor Jacek Wiśniewski, who then supervised her Ph.D. dissertation on the myth and ritual in the dramatic and theatrical output of W.B. Yeats and Jerzy Grotowski, defended at Warsaw University in 2006. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Studies at the University of Rzeszów. Her main research areas include contemporary Anglophone and Polish drama and theatre.

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9354-9179