A Note on Ambiguity in W.B. Yeats’ “Sailing to Byzantium”

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Dr. Sandhya Tripathi


W.B. Yeats is a poet of great artistic honesty and integrity. In his critical statements he has candidly stated his artistic intentions and preoccupations.  For such students of Yeats as have been puzzled by the artistic intentions of the poet in regard to the subject matter of his poetry, he has clarified his stance in his cryptic remark, “I remake myself” in my poetic compositions. Yeats, as every scholar knows it, is paradoxically a very complex and a simple poet.  His complexity lies in his reader’s bewilderment at the contradictory artistic issues and his simplicity lies in its being a key to the unlocking of some of the ambiguities lurking in some of his poems. In his poetry, sometime he raises an issue which develops logically but the conclusion seems to stultify his explicit poetic statement, because the conclusion of the poem is deliberately made meaningfully ambiguous.  His “Sailing to Byzantium” is a poem of this type of complex simplicity. 



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How to Cite
Dr. Sandhya Tripathi. “A Note on Ambiguity in W.B. Yeats’ ‘Sailing to Byzantium’”. The Creative Launcher, vol. 5, no. 3, Aug. 2020, pp. 20-24, doi:10.53032/tcl.2020.5.3.03.


Richard Ellmann, Yeats, The Man and the Masks. Faber and Faber, 1948.

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D.E.S. Maxwell and S.B. Bushrui, eds., W.B. Yeats: Centenary Essays on the Art of W.B. Yeats. Ibaden University Press,1965. pp.217-219.

Frank Kermode, “Poetry as Image.” Critics on Yeats, (ed) Raymond Cornell, George Allen and Unwin, 1971. p.43.