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Discuss the Ways in Which Yeats Presents His Ideas About Ageing in ‘Among School Children’

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Discuss the ways in which Yeats presents his ideas about ageing in ‘Among School Children’

The theme of ageing is central in the poem ‘Among School Children’ as surrounded by youthful children during his visit to a convent school in Waterford, Yeats reviews his own deteriorating state and contemplates whether old age is a state where people can express their true selves. In 1926, Senator Yeats visited St Otterans, which inspired him to write ‘Among School Children’. The poem shows an external persona, Yeats as the ‘smiling public man’ but blurs this with Yeats tormented inner persona where he writes about his true emotions towards ageing and his disgust of his and his desired lover, Maud Gonne’s physical state in old age.

Firstly, Yeats presents his negative attitude towards ageing by idealising youth in his old age. As he looks upon a youthful Maud Gonne, he describes ‘and thereupon my heart was driven wild’. The lexical choice ‘wild’ emphasises Yeats’s uncontrollable and obsessional love towards Maud Gonne and how he feels that it has held him back in his old age. Yeats is left feeling bitter towards ageing as he reminisces about the memories of unrequited love in his old age. The hypnotising ABABACC rhyme scheme emphasises the hypnotic effect of Maud Gonne’s face and how Yeats is being drawn back into his youthful memories. This line mirrors the line ‘imagination and heart were driven so wild’ in the ‘Cold Heaven’, a similar poem where Yeats expresses the desire to be youthful and be with his lover Maud Gonne. The enjambment quickens the pace; hastening the inevitability of the truth that Maud Gonne wont return his love and be with him in his old age. Yeats wonders why he still has the ‘hot blood of youth crossed long ago;’ and why he has not moved on in his old age. The assonance emphasises the outpour of Yeats’s emotions and grief and shows how Yeats…...

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