Joseph Valente


A disability studies approach to W.B. Yeats’s most famous poem, “Easter, 1916," will almost inevitably focus upon the final stanza, wherein the poet represents but also elides, reckons and fails to reckon, with the biopolitical consequences of the Rising in its ideological context. Often in Yeat's verse, however, the full significance of such a salient passage, stanza or trope ultimately resides not in what it says but in the structural effects of what it leaves unsaid. In the case of “Easter, 1916,” the question of disability—its place in the Imaginary of patriotic sacrifice, its inescapability as a fortune of war, its deviation from the muscular norms of nationalist embodiment—remains a haunting absence, a reverberating silence to be experienced and evaluated in relation to the formal dynamics whereby the poem constructs the historical event of the same name.