Disappointing Utopian Vision of W. B. Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium”

  •  Mahmood N. Khoshnaw    


Most of the critical literature and readings of Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium”, both form or content wise, focus on the aesthetic, spiritual or symbolic aspects of the poem, with occasional allusions to the biography of the writer. This research, apart from the allusive imagery and symbolic structure, presents a more critical view of the text. It attempts to highlight self-contradictory and irreconcilable outcome as well as paradoxical representations of both imagined spaces that have rarely been considered or examined. This article, therefore, analyzes the inconsistencies resulting from readers’ expectations that stem from the outcomes of such mythical vision and what is unfolding by the end of the poem. The research shows that the speaker’s disillusionment with his society, the fantasy of the body transcendence and the spatiotemporal idealization of Byzantium are based on false premises and fail the expectation of readers. These inconsistencies, the research argues, are the manifestation of the poet’s desideratum for an immediate and perennial consolation of the suffering from life at old age and resort to the pleasure of art and beauty.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

Journal Metrics

h-index (July 2022): 26

i10-index (July 2022): 61

Learn more