Yeats wrote quite a few poems which bring in violence as a theme. Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen is among the most powerful f such poems. It is a powerful poetic comment not only on the Irish situation of Yeats’s time but also on violence in general. At the same time, the poem expresses the mood of disenchantment and lament very admirably. Also, his comments on the horrors of war and the degradation of human nature are very appealing and effective. In this way Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen becomes not only a precise picture of the Irish Civil War but also of the larger international destruction of which it was an advance indicating.
Development of Thought
Yeats begins by lamenting the disappearance of “niany ingenious lovely things.” The second stanza talks of “pretty toys” or illusions which sustained Yeats’s generation when they were young. This stanza also mocks the folly of thought they once had that the wom and rascals had died out. The third stanza talks of the in followed in the wake of the short-lived illusion that war the past.
The fourth stanza is a powerful comment on the path horror of war. It tells us how in war, drunken soldiers are capable of murdering a mother and leaving her crawling in her own blood at her door. All this can make the night sweat with terror.
The fifth stanza shows Yeats’s search for some comfort and composure in the face of the destruction of not only familiar a institutions but also of the great works of art of the past. The sixth stanza poses the question : “But is any comfort to be found ?
In the seventh stanza, Yeats brings in the imagery of the Swan which he says is seen by many as symbolising the solitary soul. The special thing about the Swan is that, like the artist, it is able to see “an image of its state.”
In the eighth stanza Yeats says that a lucky death for the artist would be one in which his works vanish with his breath because “triumph can but mar our solitude.”
The ninth stanza tells us that the image of the Swan leaping in the desolate heaven can bring a rage which can end all things. This stanza concludes by saying that dreams of mankind’s troubles getting removed are foolish.
The tenth stanza talks of “the weasel’s twist and the weasel’s tooth” i.e., man’s basically crooked nature and the venom inherent in man.
The eleventh stanza which is an invitation to mock at the great tells us that the levelling wind’ i.e., the wind that reduces all achievements to nothing is something that should normally deter men from toiling hard to leave some monument behind.
The twelfth stanza mocks at the wise, the thirteenth at the 8 and the fourteenth mocks at mockers themselves. Yeats concludes saying that we are all ‘traffic in mockery.’
The last section of the poem which constitutes a long passage sums up the war situation and the violence w widespread. Evil, Yeats tells us, is gaining in strength.
Technically, the most remarkable thing about Nineteen and Nineteen is its architectonic quality. Another achievement of the poem is its manipulation of symbols and images. The poem brings in a tumult to images that are at once brilliant And straight forward. The intellectual sweep of the poem and its vigour is also remarkable. The striking images which the last section of the poem contains also contribute to the final effect of the poem. Another notable thing about the poem is its powerful and passionate syntax.