Study Guide

Easter, 1916 Admiration

By William Butler Yeats

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Admiration is kind of a funny theme in "Easter, 1916," in the sense that Yeats seems like he's always on the verge of admiring the people who died in the Irish Uprising. But at the end of the day, he can never seem to take that final step and say, "These people were heroes and I was a coward for not dying with them!" But hey, many people have heard of Yeats, and the fighters Yeats mentions in this poem are all fairly obscure. So in the end, history was pretty good to Yeats.

Questions About Admiration

  1. Of all the lines in this poem, where does Yeats come closest to expressing true admiration for his fallen Irishmen?
  2. Is Yeats right to keep his distance from all the patriotism that surrounds the deaths of the Easter Uprising? Why? Why not?
  3. Do you admire Yeats' stance toward the Easter Uprising, or do you think Yeats is being a bit of a coward?
  4. When Yeats compares the dead fighters to a stone at the bottom of a stream, what does he find similar in the two? Use quotes from the text to back up your answer.

Chew on This

When he claims that everything has ben "Transformed utterly" (39), Yeats means that the dead fighters have succeeded in making Ireland a better place.

Deep down, Yeats admires the dead fighters because he thinks people will remember them longer than they will remember him.

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