The Stolen Child

Created by: Taylor Johnson

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Poem Summary: Riley Chron

Stanza I

Stanza 1 sets up the image of this world painting the picture of a forested island in a lake with animals such as herons on the water, water rats, and fairies with vats of berries and cherries. It sets a calming tone to the poem using words like drowsy, and leafy implying that it might be closer to night time. The refrain on the other hand makes the fairies not sound as good speaking directly to the child saying “Come away, O human child!” and the the fairies lead the child away holding its hand as an extra form of encouragement for the child to go with them, possibly not completely by the child's own will.

Stanza II

Stanza III

Stanza IV

Themes: Erik Herrera

Worldy vs. Other

Help people get away from the real world problems put there minds at ease by letting them think of myethical creators like running away with fairys to the magical land.

Ominous Threat

Never judge a book by its cover or what you have heard about them.

No matter place you were born is your home and no matter where you go your always safer where you were born.

Loneliness & Loss

The last one is about lonlyness and home the kids your for to leave there world and travel to other worlds but if they did they would not know how much they would leave behind and how they are living and how sad and big the loss it would be to there loved ones.

Style: Emily Carlson

Visual Imagery

  • By using the words “flapping” to describe the birds taking off added movement to the poem.
  • Using “reddest” before cherries makes the cherries sound like they are the best and very good quality. And that the fairies have good things.
  • This poem has alliteration, assonance, and rhyme.

Poetic Sounds

  • Yeats believes that poems are also songs which makes the verses lyrics.
  • He would sing a tune in his head and that’s how he would write his poems.
  • Alliteration and assonance pulls attention to certain words.
  • “Gushes” “unquiet” “softly” all bring attention to things in the poem.

Historical Context: Eddie Matijevic

Irish Nationalism

  • 20 years before the birth of Yeats the devastating potato blight struck Ireland.
  • This devastated the island's population as England kept taking their wheat and corn for British use without providing any aid in return
  • This event fueled the growth of Irish nationalism with nationalists taking seats in the Irish House of Commons and then later House of Lords in the 1860s to 1890s.
  • After a few attempts at legislation to leave Great Britain they gained their independence in 1920 after the Irish Home Rule bill of 1914 passed and came in effect
  • In this period Gaelic/Celtic Culture was trying to be preserved with the Gaelic Athletic Association and Gaelic League.
  • Yeats used this as an audience to write about Irish folk lore seen in The Stolen Child and others.
  • Yeats became the first president of the Irish Literary Society in 1892.


  • Yeat’s earliest poetry was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
  • This was an artist movement, in 1848, where painters wished to shift from the conventional and strict lines to a more complex style in color and detail.
  • The movement is named after the painter Raphael as they considered the style before his style ideal.
  • They used a closeness to nature, seriousness and sincerity in their works which was influenced by the romantics.
  • Eventually the movement split with the poets mainly following the Aesthetic Pre-Raphaelites with their themes of sensual medievalism and moody atmospheres.
  • Poets of the Pre-Raphaelites followed the traditions of Spenser(influence of Yeats), and through Keats and Tennyson.
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Symbolism Movement

  • Both visual artists and writers longed for an out-of-world transfiguration, which follows the victorian obsession of beauty.
  • This was life long interest of Yeats which seen in “The Stolen Child”
  • The movement which started in France and Belgium in the late nineteenth century from the admiration for the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe.
  • This was to contrast the realism and naturalism of everyday ordinary life to focus on creating works that evoke a response in the viewer/reader.
  • Unlike the romantic use of symbolism for certain subjects this movement spread it to anything could be used as a symbol and unlike using symbolism as an allegory to a thing they used for a state of mind.
  • This free and unrestricted style allowed for word play and fluidity which previous styles were not allowed.
  • Yeats biggest influence from this movement was the explanation of Symbolism by Paul Verlaine in 1884.
  • Used as a way to escape worldly concerns they explored mysticism and mortality which was a childhood interest of Yeats which was combined with folklore and fairies in “The Stolen Child”

Commentary I- Lois Kerschen: Toby Garza

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  • Wanted to promote Irish literature

  • Started writing poems when he was seventeen; embraced the work of the romantics

  • Started writing poetry at seventeen

  • Talked to militant Irish Independence leader John O’Leary, believed there needed to be a distinct Irish identity

  • From ages 7-9, lived with grandparents and heard stories about fairies and supernatural events

  • Claimed to have saw a fairy in a cave

  • Believed in the supernatural

Commentary II- Harriet Devine: Jake Anderson

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  • Devine begins with some background about Yeats

  • Yeats Celtic Roots and motivation for this writing

  • Bringing the story to life

  • Irish Identity

Commentary III- Desmond Pacey: Taylor & Maria

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“The strongest single impression with which one comes away from reading Yeats’ poems on children, and his references to them, is one of the consistency, clearsightedness, and realism of his attitudes.”

Yeats focuses primarily on children’s fragility and vulnerability rather than their innocence, wisdom, or religious sensibility.

Referring to The Stolen Child- “This implied endorsation of the pleasures of the real world, indeed, transposes the whole effect of the poem, and what began as a piece of sentimental escapism ends in an acceptance of familiar, domestic reality.”

“Irony, realism, and humour almost always are invoked, singly or in combination, to stop the poem short of the worst excesses of idealizing or sentimentalizing of childhood.”

On his early poems, like The Stolen Child he follows the Romantic outline and sometimes the Victorian attitudes towards children. He would use irony, realism, and humor to keep the poem from idealizing or sentimentalizing childhood.

Yeats' style of writing changed from Romantic vulnerability and fragility (1889) to a sarcastic, off hand, mordant and dry realism (1928).