예이츠와 라킨


Yeats and Larkin


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This paper aims to examine Yeats‘ influence on Larkin. As Larkin has said that he spent three years trying to write like Yeats in the Introduction to the 1966 issue of The North Ship(1945), the impact of Yeats was the result of an inspiring visit by the poet Vernon Watkins to the Oxford University Club in 1943. Larkin was deeply impressed by Watkins, and became an ardent admirer of Yeats.
Many of the poems in The North Ship were modelled after the work of Yeats.
Yeatsian rhythms and a Yeatsian choice of phrase are encountered through The North Ship. As well as technical borrowings, he adopts Yeatsian attitudes and begins to write impassioned lyric rather than a specific devotion of Yeats. The most immediate effect of Yeats on Larkin’s poetry is the romanticism which appears prominently in this volume.
After publishing The North Ship, Larkin subsequently rejected Yeats’s influence and turned for inspiration to the poetry of Thomas Hardy, whom he still regards as his model. The poems in The Less Deceived and The Whitsun Weddings display Hardy’s influence. The most important difference is that Larkin swept away the romantic and melancholy tone of Yeats’s early Celtic period. On the other hand, Larkin had abandoned the metaphysical euphoria of Yeats at the beginning of his poetic career. Yeats accepts every part of existence, by looking inwards to form a unity of being by a faith in self, whereas Larkin shows us that the acceptance of fact and life does not always provide an answer to our hopes.
In this respect, Larkin’s art is in sharp contrast with Yeats from the beginning.
In “Sailing to Byzantium,” Yeats traveled to Byzantium, a holy city of intellect, to search for spiritual life, but Larkin went on the darkening sea, the cold North. In Yeats’s poetry, man lives many lives before death, and death creates a new hero as Hanraham in “The Tower,” but death in Larkin’s poetry prompts emotion rather than metaphysical or theological assertion, and remains one of the great traditional subjects for the exercise of serious or comic wit. He eliminates illusion from death and accepts it as a real thing in life and does not create it as a hero after death.
Through this contrast, both Yeats and Larkin generate archetypes of reality.
However, Larkin is not a transcendental writer, he is not a Yeats nor is he a Hardy; his main themes are men, the life of men, the passing of time, and a belief that man is always in thrall to time.


  • 김광선 Kwang-Sun Kim. 명지대


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