What is the "casual comedy" to which Yeats refers in "Easter 1916"?

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The passage in the poem that mentions a "casual comedy" is as follows:

He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

The "he" that Yeats' speaker refers to is a man he describes...

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The passage in the poem that mentions a "casual comedy" is as follows:

He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

The "he" that Yeats' speaker refers to is a man he describes as "drunken" and a "lout" who has badly wronged some of the speaker's dearest friends. Nevertheless, Yeats includes this man in the "casual comedy," which was what life was like in Ireland before the Easter Rebellion of 1916.

The 1916 Easter Rebellion was the largest rebellion in Ireland in more than a century. It was propelled by a desire to mount a fight for independence while the British were preoccupied with World War I. It was a bloody rebellion that was put down harshly, but it marked a turning point—inspiring many Irish people to support Irish nationalism and Irish independence.

The man described in the passage above is one of the multitude who has "resigned" his part in going along with the "casual comedy" of British rule of Ireland. Even though an imperfect person, he has changed—"Transformed utterly"—and become part of the new and terrible beauty of Irish independence that is being born.

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Humorously, while pontificating on the Easter Rebellion, Yeats comments negatively about his own country, but he does so in a manner that seems resigned to its lackluster charms. Yeats calls his home country of Ireland a “casual comedy," referring to the almost comedic nature of its continued existence and the bleak way of life within that nation.

There is clear resignation in his voice, because, although the nation is dull and unsatisfying, it is, according to the speaker, better than England. The speaker spends a good deal of time criticizing the dreary and grey countryside of the nation of England, as well as its miserable cities.

The speaker has resigned himself to this nation and committed to it in spite of its issues. This signals his commitment to “righting the wrongs,” as it were, in the nation; he enters the rebellion to try and fix the country he lives and make it beautiful and inspiring once more.

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The "casual comedy" simply refers to the ordinary, workaday lives of those countless Irish men and women of Yeats's acquaintance who have been transformed—transformed utterly, no less—by their participation in the Easter Rising.

Though many of these people, such as Yeats's close friend Maude Gonne, had been involved in political activities for many years prior to the uprising, in retrospect they were just play-acting. It's only now, in the heat of a heroic, but doomed, insurrection against British colonial rule, that they have finally been able to resign their parts in the casual comedy and take on completely different roles in this great national tragedy.

Yeats seems almost surprised that a man he'd always regarded as a "drunken, vainglorious lout" (John MacBride, Maude Donne's husband) should also have been transformed in this way. For Yeats, this only goes to show just how transformative war can be, how the flames of conflict can purify the souls of those who'd previously led such dissolute, unheroic lives.

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The quote you are refering to comes in the second stanza of this brilliant poem, in which Yeats explores his ambivalent thoughts about the Easter uprising in Ireland in 1916. The poem begins by establishing the dissatisfaction of the speaker with the way that Ireland was before the uprising. Ireland is depicted as consisting of "grey / Eighteenth-century houses" and where future revolutionaries are made fun of and greeted by "Polite, meaningless words." The second stanza then moves on to describe certain individuals who were involved in the uprising. It is the description of one of these characters that results in the quote you refer to:

He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy...

Thus we can see that the "casual comedy" of this line refers to the existence of Ireland and the unsatisfying, bleak way of life of the people before the Ireland. "Resigning" his place in this "casual comedy" thus indicates the intention of this anonymous individual to protest against it, becoming involved in the uprising that gives rise to the "terrible beauty" of the rebellion.

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