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The Circus Animals' Desertion

The Circus Animals' Desertion

by William Butler Yeats

The Circus Animals' Desertion Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What do the circus animals represent in this poem? Why does Yeats call them circus animals? And why in the world are they ditching the dude?
  2. Do you get the sense that the speaker is happy with his final situation (to start fresh in "the rag and bone shop of the heart")? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think the speaker is still in love with his old characters and themes or not? How can you tell? Does he look back on his past writing with fondness or embarrassment?
  4. How would this poem be different if it were written in the third person?
  5. Do you think this speaker is Yeats for sure? Could he be adopting any other persona?
  6. What's with the form of this poem? What is the effect of having it be in ottava rima?
  7. Can this poem have any impact without understanding a thing about Yeats? In other words, without the context of some biographical information, does this poem work?

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