Yeats Vision Of Irish Fairies

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Yet, Yeats’ vision of authentic Irish identity was still revolutionary in its own way. He outlines his vision in his piece ‘Irish Fairies,’ published in 1890 in the early years of the Revival. In this piece, Yeats focuses on the life of the Irish peasantry and contrasts their simplistic, pastoral lifestyle with modernizing forces, such as industrialization. He begins by asserting that “the Irish peasantry still believe in fairies,” though no one believes he is telling the truth. Yeats is referring to the fairies found in Irish folklore. He writes that people assume he is “merely trying to weave a forlorn piece of gilt thread into the dully grey worsted of this century.” Through this imagery, Yeats presents the idea that the peasantry are …show more content…
He writes, “The world is, I believe, more full of significance to the Irish peasant than to the English. The fairy populace of hill and lake and woodland have helped to keep it so.” Yeats outlines his ideological view of Irish identity, ascertaining the particular aspects that set the Irish people apart, namely their folklore. Yeats argues that the belief in a land populated by fairies enhances the lived experience of the Irish, as it “gives a fanciful life to the dead hillsides, and surrounds the peasant, as he ploughs and digs, with tender shadows of poetry.” He argues that the fairy world engages the peasants and brings joy to their life despite their harsh living conditions and demanding lifestyle. His suggestion that the fairies are poetic ties his work as a poet to the construction of Irish identity, because the role of fairies is so central to that identity. In some ways, ‘Irish Fairies’ rescues the bucolic stereotype of the Irish peasant, perpetuated by the English, from its negative connotations. Yeats credits the peasantry’s idyllic nature with the folklore created by and celebrated by the Irish, divorcing the image of the peasant from the control of the English in order to re-imagine their harmful stereotypes and reallocating control over the images, without directly challenging the stereotypes. Yeats’ Irish identity is produced in conjunction with …show more content…
Yeats and Moran, along with other revivalist writers, worked within a colonial framework to develop their own identities. Yet, efforts to create a universal identity during the Revival failed to include many people, because the act of defining identity inherently excluded those whose identities were multiplicited and intersectional. Moran’s imagination of an essentialist Irish identity, which he developed in defence of the oppressed Irish Catholics, ignored and denounced Yeats struggle to reconcile his Protestant, Anglo-Irish identity with his Irish nationalist leanings, while Yeats’ privileged approach to Irish identity ignored the struggles of those less powerful. For both writers, their personal experiences and the social structures that shaped those experiences were essential to their approach to their Irish identity. Ultimately, Yeats and Moran offer a lens into the challenges of fostering a singular Irish identity in a country at the centre of so many political, social, and cultural interactions; Irish identity, therefore, is produced by the individual from the lived experience of being Irish and resists reductive definitions and

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