Poetic Analysis Of 

"Among School Children"

             Introduction            Section One            Section Two            

Section Three            Section Four            Conclusion

And thinking of that fit of grief or rage
I look upon one child or t'other there
And wonder if she stood so at that age--
For even daughters of the swan can share
Something of every paddler's heritage--
And had that colour upon cheek or hair,
And thereupon my heart is driven wild:
She stands before me as a living child.

            After envisioning the two of them together, youthful again, Yeats searches through the children, wondering if he can see a little of Gonne in any child. He said, “Wonder if she stood so at that age.”  He then describes Gonne’s swan-like beauty, saying, “even the daughters of the swan can share something of every paddler’s heritage.” Slipping deeper into his imagination, Yeats passionately portrays Gonne, until “she stands before me as a living child.”  The image of Gonne’s youthful purity hypnotizes Yeats, evident in the song-like rhyme scheme of the stanza (abababcc).  Yeats’s only way to match this youthful beauty is to express it as poetic beauty.  Tragically, Yeats knows that this perfection will eventually be corrupted, causing Yeats to have a “fit of grief or rage” (17)



Her present image floats into the mind--
Did Quattrocentro finger fashion it
Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind
And took a mess of shadows for its meat?
And I though never of Ledaean kind
had pretty plumage once--enough of that,
Better to smile on all that smile, and show
There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow.

            Understanding that his portrayal is not reality today, “her present image floats into the mind.” Still, in her growing age, he sees Gonne as if “Quattrocento finger fashion it,”  comparing her cheeks to the wind. The wind image takes on a double meaning. The brevity of the wind also symbolizes the brevity of life. Yeats realizes that he, like Gonne, is ageing, saying he “had a pretty plumage once.” Wanting to hide his sudden realization of mortality, Yeats assumes a pleasant demeanor, able “to smile on all that smile.”  This façade is a metaphoric mask of an “old scarecrow," allowing Yeats to conceal his true, frantic feelings.