William Butler Yeats’ Sailing to Byzantium

For Yeats, Byzantium represented the highest ideals in art, spirituality, and knowledge, a kind of heavenly realm in which nothing ever changes but remains perfectly representative of the inner essence of art, beauty and spirituality.&nbsp. This is a city that cannot be conceived of by the average mortal and can indeed only be partially grasped in partial form by a living poet in the throes of vision.&nbsp. However, it is a land for human spirits, a place where they can throw off the “tattered coats” of life in favor of the eternal purity that is housed here.&nbsp.

Reading through the poem, it is possible to grasp Yeats’ concept of an eternal and unnaturally unchanging perfection of being that so transcends form and rises above function that it remains beyond the living human’s ability to understand or fully appreciate.&nbsp. Through his language, imagery, and perspective, Yeats manages to present this poem as an allegory of the modernist sensibility, removing such issues as politics, history and social responsibility from the poem, speaking primarily of the issue of aesthetics while still avoiding any specific definition of aesthetic principles.In this poem, Yeats uses language to establish the proper mood, allowing the art to take precedence through the structure of the words he’s strung together.&nbsp. Yeats maintains a specific rhythm and rhyme scheme for most, but not all, of the stanzas.&nbsp. The rhyme scheme follows the pattern ABABABCC with a near rhyme on the third set and an iambic pentameter rhythm.&nbsp. This establishes a sing-song pattern that immediately lulls the reader into an easy acceptance and flow, communicating the idea of art rather than purpose.&nbsp. At the same time, the near rhyme throws this easy rhythm off somewhat, interrupting the flow and forcing the intellect to take part in the process.&nbsp. This use of language to establish an idea goes further than this subtle technique might suggest.