The Cambridge Introduction to W.B. Yeats (Cambridge by David Holdeman

By David Holdeman

This advent to at least one of the 20 th century's most crucial writers examines Yeats's poems, performs and tales when it comes to biographical, literary, and ancient contexts. Yeats wrote with ardour and eloquence approximately own disappointments, his obsession with eire, and the trendy era's lack of religion in conventional ideals approximately artwork, faith, empire, social classification, gender and intercourse. His works uniquely replicate the sluggish transition from Victorian aestheticism to the modernism of Pound, Eliot and Joyce. this can be the 1st introductory examine to contemplate his paintings in all genres in mild of the most recent biographies, new variations of his letters and manuscripts, and up to date debts through feminist and postcolonial critics. whereas utilizing this creation, scholars can have speedy entry to the realm of present Yeats scholarship in addition to being supplied with the basic proof approximately his lifestyles and literary occupation and recommendations for additional interpreting.

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An early manifestation of the aesthetics that eventually led the poet to embrace eugenics, this inference moralizes a beauty that is terrible indeed. Things become no less weirdly fascinating – or problematic – in The Wind Among the Reeds, where Yeats takes full advantage of the evocative patterning of rhythm and imagery permitted by the lyric genre to generate a series of climactic moments even more hair-raising than those encountered in The Secret Rose. ’’ In Yeats’s defense, however, we should note that the poem’s 30 The Cambridge Introduction to W.

A poem like ‘‘The Song of Wandering Aengus,’’ for example, probably gains more through comparison with Keats’s ‘‘La Belle Dame sans Merci,’’ Shelley’s Alastor, or similar poems in the Irish aisling tradition – works in which visions of otherworldly women inspire mortal men to begin an unending pursuit of perfection – than it does by considering its connection to Yeats’s real-life feeling for Gonne. Biography matters somewhat more, however, in the case of ‘‘He bids his Beloved be at Peace,’’ usually interpreted as relating to Olivia Shakespear (and originally spoken by Michael Robartes).

Before this transformation can fully absorb him, however, he draws back in horror at the perception that his superhuman dance partner is ‘‘drinking up [his] soul as an ox drinks up a wayside pool’’ (SR 147–48). Though aware that his fellow adepts regard the inhabitants of ‘‘the great deep’’ as ‘‘one and yet a multitude’’ (and thus not fully dispossessed of individuality), his terror that his soul will be changed beyond recognition prevents him from making the final leap of faith (SR 128). Waking after a long period of unconsciousness, he finds himself in a drab room surrounded by immobile figures, including Robartes.

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