W. B. Yeats: Metaphysician as Dramatist

W. B. Yeats: Metaphysician as Dramatist

Heather C. Martin

Language: English

Pages: 168

ISBN: 0889201927

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Mainly concerned with the influence of Yeats’s mystical studies on his drama, but includes discussion of the influence of the nô: Yeats’s dance plays ‘are strikingly similar . . . to the Japanese Noh’, Martin believes, but this is ‘almost completely coincidental’; Yeats ‘embraced the Japanese plays . . . because they provided him with an established tradition for his own dramatic experiments’, but they influenced the development of his drama ‘far less than is often supposed’.


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various other Celtic spirits. 13 From a variant to the Cauldron ritual of Yeats's Celtic Mysteries (CMK 207). Yeats is referring here not to the darkness beyond creation, but to the darkness of the fallen world, that of the Fomorians, which he sometimes contrasted with the kingdom of light of the nearly perfected Danaans. 14 Creation in A Vision is equated with the Third Principle, the Passionate Bod (AV (B) 191). The theme of loneliness has many permutations in Yeats's system. Solitude, being

forget their divinity entirely and identify themselves completely with the human body. Each spirit undertakes its search alone, and progresses at its own pace through the cosmos, so that the cosmos becomes populated by an elaborate hierarchy of beings ranging from the One to humanity. Mme Blavatsky states this theory very succinctly. The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform.... They vary

Enter, and the Morrigu for Cuchulain in T Death of Cuchulain; they are also the Irish fairies or the Sidhe, the "shape-changers of legend," as Yeats called them in A Vision, who appear in a number of the plays.37 In the sixth phase, spirits must prepare themselves to re-enter the world and adopt a new personality, and they may try to tamper with their future destiny by manipulating this world, becoming "frustrators." Yeats blamed much of the initial confusion of A Vision on just such frustrators,

it. Who knows what ears listen behind the door? (VP1 1055) Cuchulain in this play seems to be drifting in and out of a trance or dream state; these dream states constitute yet another border in the plays, which have a psychical as much as a physical reality. Thus Forgael is in a dream state much of the time, as is Michael in The Unicorn from the Stars. In other plays no setting is given, but the wear itinerant musicians, who are all-seeing, all-knowing, and yet helpless to control the action,

therefore, there 118 W. B. Yeats: Metaphysician as Dramatist does nevertheless appear to be a fine but real distinction between the two. In the words of the Prime Minister in draft sixteen of The Playe Queen, And those that will not make deliberate choice Are nothing, or become some passion's voice Doing its will, believing what it chooses. (MPQ 208) Choice In the "Great Wheel" chapter of A Vision Yeats posited that, while chance and choice, now Body of Fate and Will, appear in a different

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