Among School Children by William Butler Yeats: Introduction

The poem Among School Children was written in 1926 by WB Yeats after he visited to a convent school. After the restoration of independence in Ireland, WB Yeats became the Senator in parliament. As a public man, he visited schools so as to find the quality of education and the problems faced by the schools. In this poem, we see the poet as an academician, as the critic of philosophy, as the lover of Maude Gonne, and as the supporter of organicity.

William B. Yeats (1865-1939)

This poem of Yeats is recognized as one of the most difficult poems and is praised for its smooth flow from the direct consideration of the school children, to the memory of Maude Gonne, to his passionate philosophical conclusion and to the puzzle of the human existence. The main subject of the poem revolves around the interpretation of matter and spirit. The major theme of the poem is the process of aging, the creation and the love.

The poem consists of eight stanzas of eight lines each. It employs a rhyme scheme of ababaabcc, popularly known as ottava rima. He has got mastery over the excellent use of language in this poem. His prosaic language is too brilliant and polite. The selection of words is quite refined.

The first stanza is setting: Yeats is walking along with a kind old nun who is answering his questions, when he suddenly notices little girls looking at him. These girls remind him of Maude Gonne. He thinks Maude Gonne who now old must be as pretty as the girl when she was a little school girl. Stanzas 5 to 8 are extensions of the poet’s wonder at life and change. He states that if mother would think their children would grow old and ugly and one day die, then she would not give birth to her kids. Then the poet begins to think of the philosophies about the life and reality and their propounders. However big philosophies one propound, he/she has to face the bitter reality of life that is aging and death. In the last stanza the poet puts a confusing question about the existence of the life which is not related to his visit to the convent and to his meditation. He concludes that the dancer cannot be separated from the dance.

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Sharma, K.N. "Among School Children by William Butler Yeats: Introduction." BachelorandMaster, 26 May 2017,