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Yeats and The Second Coming of Textual Analysis 

Digital Humanities of the Skillman Library, Lafayette College

Joseph R.C. Bronzo

 A Poem ?

The Poem's Evolution-

Poetry, like that of any textual manifestation of the canon of English literature, has a plethora of definitions. Those definitions have grown, that is thanks to the myriad poetic schools which have attempted to define it. 

    Aristotle and G.W. Lessing-

-An appeal to the ear-

William Wordsworth-

"Spontaneous overflow of emotion recollected in tranquility,"


-A text which is ambiguous and unreadable-

Joseph Bronzo's Take-

The inability to pinpoint a single and exact meaning should not be perceived as a weakness, for the study of the parts of the canon and their subsequent critiques are as pluralistic as the multitude of cultures that populate the earth.

The Largest Point-

“A Poem, even when it begins with an actual experience, distorts, heightens, simplifies, and transmutes, so that we can say only with many qualifications that a given experience inspired a particular verse”-

Richard Ellman


 In some degree, an authorial identity is created over the lifetime of a poet, and the influences on that identity are infinite and could never be fully assembled.

Reviving the Author through text. 

However, a subsection of this identity can be isolated, and that is the development and use of individual images, particular language, and selected metaphors, which can be located in the extant works. Therefore, we can determine and define the materials, which the writer had a given moment and used.

Terms to Know-
Mythic Personality
Obsessive Metaphors 
Deconstructed Author


Eliot’s criticism of Yeats' romantic tendencies seems to be a fair assessment, with the “night,” “moon,” “wind,” “soul,” and “sea,” being four of the top forty words used by Yeats. Furthermore, many bucolic images demonstrate the theory of Yeats shifting trends. Bucolic imagery is found with most frequency in the first 1/3rd of his career or up until 1910. ​

Yeats' mid-career is a true transition, the bucolic imagery decreases markedly. Also the mystic and The Vision-esque words and images enter into Yeats' compendium, such as: Gyre, Hawk, Falcon, Spiritus Mundi. However, these only occur 40 times collectively, which is minimal especially in comparison to the early bucolic words and their frequency.

Bucolic and natural imagery reappear in Yeats' later works and some notable new words: Sailing and boats occur more frequently in the end of the career, with over 2/3rds of the word: sail being featured in his later work.

Early Yeats
End of Career

83,077 words make up the 382 poetic works of William Butler Yeats.



Two Tools of Analysis- Voyant and Poemage



The most Frequently occurring words include: ), “Old,” “Man,” “Love,” “heart,” “come,” “great” “eyes/eye,” “thought,” “long,” “day,” “time,” “wind,” “mind, “ “young,” and “dead.”

Word Charts

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Old's Frequency 

Old occurs over the entire compendium with relative equal distribution. 

Leaves Frequency 
Gyre's Frequency
Sail's Frequency
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