Eliot vs Yeats

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is authored and narrated by T.S. Eliot. He wrote and published the poem in his 20’s. “The Sailing to Byzantium”, on the other hand, is authored and narrated by W.B. Yeats. Eliot and Yeats have both similarities and differences that will be explored in this essay.

Eliot is a young man in his 20’s while Yeats is an old man. Elliot mentions that “And indeed there will be time…With a bald spot in the middle of my hair/They will say: How his hair is growing thin!” (Line 37, 40-41). This depicts a man in his youth worried about his later years as an old man, when his hair begins to fall out. Yeats on the other hand portrays himself as an old man when he says “An aged man is but a paltry thing…And therefore I have sailed the seas and come/ To the holy city of Byzantium” (Line 9, 15-16). This depicts an old man sailing away to find his life purpose.

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Despite the age difference, Eliot and Yeats have one thing in common: they both feel alienated from their societies. Eliot narrates his poem in a dramatic monologue expressing the feelings that he would never bring himself to speak out loud. He says, “And I have known the eyes already, known them all/ The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase/ And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin.” (Lines 55-57). Eliot explains how he feels when the women is looking at him with disapproval. On the other hand, Yeats expresses how he feels about his country, the one he is leaving. He says, “That is no country for old men” (Line 1), and he goes ahead to explain how the youth dominate with their public displays of affection.

Both Eliot and Yeats are the great poets of their time, and despite the difference in the times when the poems were published, they still find a common ground.