The Thought of W.B. Yeats (Reimagining Ireland)
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This study focuses on the ideas of W.B. Yeats and explores his thinking on a wide range of fundamental subjects. Since opposites are central to Yeats’s thought, the book begins with an analysis of this topic. The author then examines Yeats’s views on religion, sex and politics, again scrutinising the opposites at play. The author considers Yeats’s adherence to various anti-empirical belief systems and the transformation of his view of sex as largely a romantic concern to his later more ‘earthy’ perspective. Yeats’s fundamentally Tory political inclinations are examined alongside his regrettable espousal of eugenics.
In the second part of the book Yeats’s view of history and of human character in A Vision are analysed. The author discusses Yeats’s two versions of ‘Sophocles’ and his poems on Byzantium. The final chapter on Yeats’s style stresses the pervasive use of embedded phrases and of terminal questions in the poems.
Jane’s immensely complicated and punning climactic assertion requires considerable exegesis. As the text reads on the page, Jane holds with Jung that the goal of human life is the achievement of individuation that will make the individual person whole and that this process will often come 24 CHAPTER 1 about only after ‘terrible rending’ – such as the mid-life crisis that both Yeats and Jung experienced. In the sub-text, where Jane’s pun attains her revenge on the restrictions of society, she
that ‘the principal European nations are degenerating in body and in mind’. To be more specific, ‘Since about 1900 the better stocks have not been replacing their numbers, while the stupider and less healthy have been more than replacing theirs’. Yeats’s remedy for this situation is that ‘Sooner or later we must limit the families 32 Kevles, quoted ibid., 191. 82 CHAPTER 4 of the unintelligent classes’. All of which looks forward in an eerie way to the experiments of Nazism (Ex 420, 423,
Oedipus, in which the Chorus delivers their verdict upon Oedipus (1524–30; P 566). The seven lines of rather clumsy Greek are reduced to five shorter lines of exemplary almost epigrammatic clarity. Sophocles’ initial address to the Thebans is generalised into ‘Make way for Oedipus’ and his prosaic ‘on whose fortunes what citizen did not gaze with envy’ ( Jebb) is pared down to the absolute minimum and becomes a direct quotation of what the people said about Oedipus: ‘That is a fortunate man’.
also, like the Church of the Holy Wisdom and if adversely affected by the moon, the principle of mutability, deride that carnal, mutable world of complex passions and degradation, can, that is, vacillate between self and soul. In the fourth stanza the spirits of the dead, who are intimately linked with the body, are purified at the witching hour of midnight by the purgatorial fire that appears on the Forum of Constantine in the city of Constantinople.74 At the heart of this Christian city, ruled
in life was the gaining of complete independence for Ireland and who turned out to be involved sexually only with men obsessed with politics, had since 1887 been engaged in a sexual relationship with the right-wing French politician Lucien Millevoye, and within a couple of months of meeting Yeats became pregnant by him. Consequently, there was no question of her sleeping with Yeats and his obsessive love for Maud turned into ‘the unappeasable quest 17 18 M. Ward, Maud Gonne: Ireland’s Joan of