W. B. Yeats: The Poet as Critic

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introduction & biography

Henceforth he would be recognized, in the words of T. Yeats in honor of his birthday.

User:AndrewRT/William Butler Yeats (Wikipedia)

As Hassett makes clear, their friendship was founded upon profound intellectual and spiritual communion. His subsequent rebirth as a writer under the influence of George could not have occurred without the intervention at a crucial moment in his life of a youthful Muse who variously oscillated in his poetic imagination as a girl-woman of immense self-possession, grace and charm, a seductive but unattainable object of desire and a source of revelation about the process of creativity itself.

Several of the Muses discussed by Hassett also inspired the psychologically rich and subtle characters in his plays. Perhaps the most haunting of all the Muse relationships discussed in the book concerns Olivia Shakespear, an extraordinarily beautiful, deeply cultured and compassionate woman with whom Yeats conducted a brief love affair in the mids in yet another earlier effort to overcome his feelings for Maud Gonne. It was, according to Hassett, the very availability of Olivia as a woman that made her unsuitable as a Muse.

A W.B. Yeats Artwork for Bedford Park

Nonetheless, her erotic allure combined with her empathy remained with Yeats to the end as an iconic image of love experienced as enduring friendship and, as these tender lines are written in indicate, a testimony to the enduring power of physical love to stir the human heart:. Yeats was sixty-four when he wrote these lines and had but another decade to live.

Amazingly, this decade, when he was impotent but still full of desire, gave rise to yet another phase in his relationship to the Muse.


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This time, however, rather than seeking inspiration in an outer manifestation of his creative impulse, Yeats came to the realization that the source of his art lay in the intersection of masculine and feminine energies contained within his own psyche. In one stunning poem and play after another, Yeats demonstrated how passionate his imagination became when expressing itself through the persona of a woman for whom sexual desire was the exact equivalent of spiritual longing.

Yeats and the Muses is a magnificent achievement. What he demonstrates with clarity, discretion and profound insight is that Yeats is a consummate poet of love. Through his careful analysis of how the love and sexual passion of a great artist can infuse his creative life with inspiration and power, Hassett has made a major contribution not only to Yeats studies but also to a more enlightened understanding of how ordinary human beings can live more productively engaged and fulfilled lives.

His analysis of the art resulting from that effort is a living testimony to the ways in which Yeats maximized his talent by engaging himself openly, passionately and courageously with his deepest and most intimate aspirations and drives. The incredible poetry and plays of Yeats are, like the mercies of sainthood, a gift to mankind. Joseph Hassett deserves enormous credit for teaching us that lesson. His study of how the sanctifying energy of love functions in the life of a great artist is itself a labor of love and a much-needed corrective to those who would dismiss the art of Yeats by dismissing the tortuous, sacrificial methods by which it was created.

Yeats Foundation at Emory University. Related: Books. Toggle navigation. Former journalist, lawyer forced to leave Belfast convent due to low enrollment.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

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Have a video you want to share? Here's how to submit to IrishCentral! Irish famine music and dance show massive hit in Mayo ahead of Broadway premiere. Gorgeous Galway Manor and Cottage is the dream Irish vacation rental. As the reader of the Variorum Edition of Yeats's poems quickly notices, Yeats regularly equipped his books of poetry with prefaces and notes, revising these props whenever he rewrote or regrouped a section of poems.

But the more Yeats wrote, the more help his critics seemed to need; and Yeats cheerfully set about supplying them with all sorts of material, everything from autobiography to aesthetic theory.

Reading Yeats in the Age of Trump | Boston Review

In , for instance, Yeats explained to his father his reasons for writing "a little philosophical book": "I shall publish it in a new book of verse, side by side, I think. Reviewers find it easier to write if they have ideas to write about--ideas or a narrative like that in my Reveries. What Yeats was trying to do, of course, was to make available to his public everything that good criticism ultimately uncovers. He was also.

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. No cover image. Read preview. Excerpt I like to visualize the proverbial man on a desert island who, having chosen Yeats over, say, Shakespeare, watches float up to his sandy shore the as-yet-uncollected Complete Works, twenty or so fat volumes nudging each other on--and behind them, borne perhaps on the backs of dolphins, first, the dozens of books that have already been written about Yeats, and then a long bobbing procession of dissertations, articles, and reviews, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of them, the sum total of Yeats scholarship.

Where, in this welter, will the islander begin? Read preview Overview.


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