Risen

Risen

The Photograph

Let us pray...

Introduction:

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Current: Danbury, CT, United States
Welcome! A few years ago, I discovered an application that artists employ in their works to bring cultural awareness to their audiences. Having discerned this semiotic theory that applies to literature, music, art, film, and the media, I have devoted the blog, "Theory of Iconic Realism" to explore this theory. The link to the publisher of my book is below. If you or your university would like a copy of this book for your library or if you would like to review it for a scholarly journal, please contact the Edwin Mellen Press at the link listed below. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thank you for visiting. I hope you will find the information insightful. ~ Dr. Jeanne Iris



To view my page on the Edwin Mellen Press website, please click below:

28 February, 2017

William Butler Yeats' "The Tower II" and Iconic Realism

I took this photograph of Thoor Ballylee a few years ago.

 
I pace upon the battlements and stare
On the foundations of a house, or where
Tree like a sooty finger, starts from the earth;
and send imagination forth
Under the day’s declining beam, and call
Images and memories
From ruin or from ancient trees,
For I would ask a question of them all.
(“The Tower II,” ll. 18-25) [1]

Here, Yeats places himself in the midst of the Tower, the earthen icon of the human soul. Born of the ancient source of all life, this soul’s power rests in the simplicity of a child’s voice, echoing for the “blind man’s joy.” This simplicity is so powerful that “certain men, be[come] maddened by those rhymes,” (l. 42) a magnificent union of the duality existent in imagination and reality. 

To further illustrate this duality, Yeats incorporates the iconic representation of “The Great Memory” to signify the reality of human consciousness. The speaker is out of control while at the same time, he is in control, “Come old, necessitous, half-mounted man;/And bring beauty’s blind rambling celebrant” (ll. 91-2). This ambivalence, accented with alliteration, leads to Yeats’s revelation that from chaos comes order and from dissonance, consonant harmony. He continues with his reference to human consciousness with an allusion to his recurrent swan’s song: “When the swan must fix his eye/ Upon a fading gleam, /Float out upon a long/Last reach of glistening stream/And there sing his last song” (ll. 141-45). 

The central theme of this poem is the realization of life’s paradox that art is both illusion and ideal. When Yeats reveals through the alliteration and rapid meter of “Man makes a superhuman/Mirror-resembling dream” (ll.165-66), he draws upon his references of the Easter Uprising and WWI in which reality of life recreates itself through the restructuring of chaos. 

Yeats’s iconic-bucolic imagery of singing birds in the introductory and concluding lines of “The Tower” reinforce his message of universal harmony that echoes throughout the sphere of life’s transformations. His final lines, “Seem but the clouds of the sky/When the horizon fades,/ Or a bird’s sleepy cry/ Among the deepening shades” (ll.193-96), indicate his reconciliation of life, art, Ireland and reality. It is not by accident that this poem leads directly to “Meditations in Time of Civil War.” 

In “The Tower,” Yeats illustrates the necessity for humanity to acknowledge the reality of life’s paradox and to nurture human consciousness with eyes wide open to human frailties as well as the glorious harmony present in one's creative endeavors.



[1] Yeats, William Butler. The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. (Hertfordshire, G.B.: Wordsworth Editions, Ltd., 2000)

[2] Lakatos, Jeanne. The Theory of Iconic Realism: Understanding the Arts through Cultural Context. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2008, pp. 54-55.