The search for and portrayal of national identity in the poetry of W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney : an honors thesis (HONRS 499)
The island that now houses Ireland and Northern Ireland has changed a great deal politically during the twentieth century. Once completely under British rule, the island is now divided into an independent nation, often referred to as the Republic of Ireland, in the south and the still British-controlled region of Northern Ireland. Throughout the shifts of the past 100 years, one constant for Ireland and Northern Ireland has been a search for identity and place. The poetry of William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney offers a look into how two men from different times and different parts of the island searched for and displayed their countries' history, culture, and conflicts in drastically different ways. To examine these two Nobel Prize-winning poets, I analyze each of poet's work independently and then compare them. Also included at the beginning of this paper is a brief history of Ireland in the twentieth century and short biographies of Yeats and Heaney.