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Sailing to Byzantium Summary & Analysis
by William Butler Yeats

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“Sailing to Byzantium,” by the Irish poet W.B. Yeats (1865-1939), is essentially about the difficulty of keeping one’s soul alive in a fragile, failing human body. The speaker, an old man, leaves behind the country of the young for a visionary quest to Byzantium, the ancient city that was a major seat of early Christianity. There, he hopes to learn how to move past his mortality and become something more like an immortal work of art.

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