Simultaneous Disintegration: Inseparability of Form and Content in W.B. Yeats’s “The Gyres”

Nic Haylett, Yasmine Shamma

Abstract


In W.B. Yeats’s 1938 poem “The Gyres”, poetic form and content reflect each other and co-create a feeling of devolution as the poem progresses. Yeats’s manipulation of poetic form in “The Gyres”—particularly towards a breakdown of meter and rhyme—reflects the direction of his content, which also reflects a collapse of the world. Form and content notably coalesce in the last line of the poem, where meter and content complicate the poem’s lack of resolution. While Declan Kiberd’s description of “[a] twilit world of wavering rhythms and half-said things” appears to be characteristic of “The Gyres”, his related observation that form seems to be elevated over subject is mistaken.

Keywords


poetry; W.B. Yeats; poetic form; The Gyres;

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