Comparison: Sample Literary Essay, Two Poems
introduce each piece and conclude with the thesis--the point
you are making about the two pieces.
The Aesthetic Movement, as exemplified by “The Indian to His
Love,” by W. B. Yeats, seems lifeless and insipid when
compared to his “The Hosting of the Sidhe.” The images of
the two poems are so completely different that they
almost demand a different set of rules dealing with their
creation. It would be virtually impossible for Yeats to
deal effectively with the subject matter of “The Hosting of
the Sidhe" in the same manner as “The Indian to His Love”
because he is viewing the world from a different perspective
for each poem.
point of comparison for each topic and then describe first
one piece and then the other to support the point. In
short essays, both parts may be in one paragraph. In
longer essays, the topics can be separated into two
paragraphs. Use transitional phrases to separate the two
parts of a topic (in contrast to, on the other hand, etc.).
There is little relationship between the characters
of “The Indian to His Love” and those of “The Hosting of the
Sidhe.” In the former, Yeats deals exclusively with
mortals, idealized perhaps, but nonetheless mortals who must
deal with the world as mortals: “Here we will moor our
lovely ship/ And wander ever with woven hands," and. "How
we alone of mortals are." These characters are not only
mortals, but are anonymous in that they have no personal
identities, and there is no representation of them as
individuals. The lovers seem to decorate the scene much as
the "peahens" and the "parrot." Yeats does, however, remind
the readers of the characters’ mortality even while he makes
them seem timeless. “How when we die our shades will rove"
tells clearly that those mortals may be in a dream, but
even this dream is destined to end.
“The Hosting of the Sidhe,” in contrast to “The Indian and
His Love,” Yeats deals with the “faeries” or “little people”
of Ireland: “The host is riding from Knocknarea" and "Coailte
tossing his burning hair,/ And Niamh calling Away, come away."
Here there are no insipid mortals, but beings and
animals with names and emotions that are as immortal as they
cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound Our breasts are
having, our eyes are agleam
descriptive, life-giving images, and Yeats chooses to
portray his faeries as closer to reality than the mortals of
“The Indian to His Love.” Yeats obviously wants the reader
to identify with the faeries and to feel their passion
rather than just to observe them.
additional points of comparison--usually at least three
points are needed for a complete essay.
settings of the two poems, like the characters, are totally
different. In “The Indian to His Love,” Yeats makes no
attempt to inject realism into his setting:
island dreams under the dawn
boughs drop tranquility:
peahens dance on a smooth lawn,
sways upon a tree,
his own image in the enameled sea.
this is a nameless imaginary island surrounded by imaginary
seas. Yeats' descriptions are in flowery metaphoric
terms, and all combine to lend a dreamlike quality to the
Hosting of the Sidhe,” on the other hand, there are none of
the qualities of setting present in “The Indian to His
Love.” Yeats tells the reader exactly where in Ireland
the action takes place: “The host is riding from Knockarea/
And over the grave of Clooth-na-Bare.” Yeats brings his
poetry into the countryside of his people; and, even though
his subjects are not real, except perhaps within the mind,
they seem more rooted in reality than his hapless Indians.
Additionally, the depiction of action is different in
the two poems. In “The Indian to his Love, “ Yeats makes no
attempt to suggest action beyond the most static activity:
“And wander ever with woven hands,/ Murmuring softly lip to
lip.” Nothing moves; nothing betrays real life. There are
no winds, no storms, and no passions on Yeats’ island, only
“tranquility.” Yeats chooses every word carefully to
reinforce this picture in the minds of the readers. He
gives no glimpse of the changes he will make in later poems,
including “The Hosting of the Sidhe.”
“The Hosting of the Sidhe,” quite in contrast to “The Indian
to His Love,” the entire poem suggests action: "The host is
riding from Knocknarea" and "Our breasts are heaving, our
eyes are agleam/ Our arms are weaving, our lips are apart."
Here is a clear picture of Niamh on his fiery steed, rushing
with purpose. Even nature is there in force: “The winds
awaken, the leaves whirl round.” There is nothing within the
poem that even remotely suggests peace and tranquility.
|Conclude with a
summary that reviews your main points and reiterates the
thesis. Don't introduce new ideas into a conclusion.
Both “The Indian to His Love” and “The Hosting of the Sidhe”
are, in their own ways, expressing ideals, but ideals that
are so different that they have need of a different
language, and Yeats meets that need. In “The Indian to His
Love,” Yeats presents the ideal of dreams: mortals in a
make-believe world. He gives a pretty picture in words that
is there to see, but it doesn’t reach out. His words don’t
include the reader at all. On the other hand, in “The
Hosting of the Sidhe,” Yeats presents the ideal of life:
immortals in a real world. Yeats wants the reader to feel
the life in this poem, not just observe it. The poem
reaches out and coaxes: “Away, come away:/ Empty your heart
of its mortal dream.” The world Yeats sees in each poem is
completely different, and by choosing his words carefully
and changing his style of writing, he allows readers to see
that difference and to feel it.
|W. B. Yeats
||The Hosting of
The host is
riding from Knocknarea
And over the grave of Clooth-na-Bare;
Caoilte tossing his burning hair,
And Niamh calling Away, come away:
Empty your heart of its mortal dream.
The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round,
Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound,
Our breasts are heaving our eyes are agleam,
Our arms are waving our lips are apart;
And if any gaze on our rushing band,
We come between him and the deed of his hand,
We come between him and the hope of his heart.
The host is rushing 'twixt night and day,
And where is there hope or deed as fair?
Caoilte tossing his burning hair,
And Niamh calling Away, come away.
The Indian to His Love
The island dreams under the dawn
And great boughs drop tranquility;
The peahens dance on a smooth lawn,
A parrot sways upon a tree,
Raging at his own image in the enameled sea.
Here we will moor our lonely ship
And wander ever with woven hands,
Murmuring softly lip to lip,
Along the grass, along the sands,
Murmuring how far away are the unquiet lands:
How we alone of mortals are
Hid under quiet boughs apart,
While our love grows an Indian star,
A meteor of the burning heart,
One with the tide that gleams, the wings that gleam and dart,
The heavy boughs, the burnished dove
That moans and sighs a hundred days:
How when we die our shades will rove,
When eve has hushed the feathered ways,
With vapoury footsole by the water's drowsy blaze.