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The Circus Animals' Desertion

The Circus Animals' Desertion


by William Butler Yeats

The Circus Animals' Desertion Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

Eight lines of iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of ABABABCC? Sounds like ottava rima to Shmoop. But before you go hunting for your Italian dictionary, we'll give you the breakdown.We've alread...


Our speaker is a poet. Yeats is a poet. Our speaker is a man nearing the end of his career. Yeats is nearing the end of his career. Our speaker spent a good deal of his life invested in Irish mytho...


The Yellow Brick Road, a.k.a. A Poet's Memory LaneYou could think of Yeats as Dorothy in this particular journey. As we travel along in his wicker basket, we get firsthand accounts of the wonders o...

Sound Check

"The Circus Animals' Desertion" reads like the clash that it is. As Yeats' poet/speaker moves from the themes of myth and heroism to more personal matters of the heart in his poetry, and those two...

What's Up With the Title?

"The Circus Animals' Desertion" is a poem about writing poetry, so what in the world are circus animals doing in it? As it turns out, there actually aren't any. Nope, those circus animals in the ti...

Calling Card

Sure, Yeats may be charting a new poetic territory in this poem (someone get this man a map of the heart), but that doesn't mean he avoids shout-outs to his old works. Poem and myth and plays all w...


You may get sucked in by the easy rhyme and magical language of Yeats's poem, but that doesn't mean his references to other poetic works and Irish myth won't throw you for a bit of a loop. Don't wo...


When it comes to using Irish mythological figures, Yeats pulls out the big guns: Cuchulain is one of the most well loved figures in the Irish canon. And he was pretty kick butt. In one myth, he eve...

Steaminess Rating

This poem sticks to the straight and narrow. It's concerned with Yeats's literary and imaginative visions, not his sexual ones.


Cuchulain (2.18)Oisin (2.2)The Countess Cathleen (2.10)

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