literaturethanks for answering my question.and its true i wasn't specific,i didn't meant art,politics,fate and divine.i've just meant fate and the divine.:"the impact of fate and the divine on...

literature

thanks for answering my question.and its true i wasn't specific,i didn't meant art,politics,fate and divine.i've just meant fate and the divine.:"the impact of fate and the divine on history".this question was asked in dealing with william.b.yeats's poem "Sailing to Byzantium".thanks in advance.

Asked on by muncan

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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your welcome.

Byzantium, originally a Greek trading station, was rebuilt by Constantine, who in 330 renamed it Constantinople and dedicated it to the Christian God. The most important city of the Roman empire in the East, Constantinople became the cultural center of the Christianized Roman world. But in the early Renaissance, Byzantine art—because of its lack of interest in naturalism—fell into disrepute: Byzantine figures, swathed in heavy drapery, reveal almost nothing of the body (except for representations of Christ on the cross), and their postures are usually static.

An important medium, mosaic—lightweight squares of colored glass set into cement—hardly lends itself to naturalism. In short, Byzantine figures seem (to the unsympathetic eye) lifeless, unable to move or to feel. But for the aging Yeats (he wrote the poem when he was sixty-one), seeking an alternative for a failing body, Byzantine art, with its other-worldly images, provided intimations of immortality. He had seen Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna in 1907, but not until his visit to Palermo in 1924 did Byzantine culture come to have great meaning for him.

Yeats establishes a contrast between, on the one hand, Ireland (with its “salmon falls,” line 4), which stands for the natural world, the cycle of birth and death, and, on the other hand, Byzantium, which stands for permanence.

The first stanza is largely devoted to presenting a memorable image of the natural world, the world of youth and of fertility. This world will be disparaged, but Yeats also lets us see its appeal, as in “The young in one another’s arms, birds in the trees,” “The salmon falls, the mackerelcrowded seas.” But even as he shows us the attractive sensuous world, he reminds us of its transience: “birds in the trees / —Those dying generations at their song. . . .” And the stanza ends with a sharp put-down: Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unaging intellect.

The second stanza, devoted to the intellectual and spiritual life, contrasts the physical world—now concisely symbolized as “an aged man,” who is a mere “tattered coat upon a stick” (a scarecrow)—with the “monuments” that were introduced at the end of the first stanza. We are now told that the aged man, or, more precisely, his “soul,” must “sing” (a contrast with the song of the dying birds of the first stanza), and that the soul learns to sing by “studying / Monuments of its own magnificence.”

And, the speaker tells us, this is why he has come to “the holy city of Byzantium.” The poet was, so to speak, trying to prepare himself for his final examination.

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