William Butler Yeats: Commentary (1)
W. P. Ryan, The Irish Literary Revival (1894): Yeats first made his way to the Club in March 1888, when Daniel Crilly MP was lecturing on Fanny Parnell; lectured shortly thereafter, bringing with him Dr. John Todhunter  … Yeatss lecture … of course it was on the good people - was something of a revelation to us - in fact he spoke as one who took his information first hand . Yeats was decidedly of the opinion, too, that the work [new Irish publishing] might be attempted upon a more ambitious scale. He offered to induce Mr T. W. Rolleston and other to throw themselves into the Irish literary movement … the meeting … came off at Mr Yeatss house in Chiswick on the 28th December, 1891, &c . The Meeting at Yeatss Chiswick house, 28th Dec. 1891. Fahy and Thomas Boyd prevented from attending by insufficient notice.  T. W. Rolleston, ed. of Dublin University Review, present [52-3]. Sir Charles Gavan Duffy made president, but Yeats and company subsequently publish independent books which to put it mildly, challenge comparison with the best in the old Library of Ireland . [Planned in the New Irish Library series, 1893, W. B. Yeats, Latter-day Irish Poetry, 70.] [On the Irish Literary Society, Dublin:] The originators of the movement - in the summer of 1892 - were W. B. Yeats and John T Kelly . The first informal meeting called to resume the work in Dublin was held at Mr John OLearys house, in Mountjoy Square. Messrs OLeary, W. B. Yeats, John T. Kelly, P. J. McCall and J. P. Quinn were among this opening muster. There was a long discussion about the project with some members of the Young Ireland League - a political and literary organisation founded in 1891 - but it was decided to have the new organisation altogether separate, and quite apart from politics . A meeting was held at the Rotundo [sic] in June, 1892, to formally inaugurate the National Literary Society. Dr George Sigerson … was in the chair. Miss Maud Gonne, W. B. Yeats, the Chairman, the Rev T. A. Finlay SJ, John OLeary and John T Kelly explained and urged the new departure . In recent years, began an appeal issued by the provisional committee, we have heard much of the material needs of Ireland, and little or nothing of her intellectual or literary … [sic] Without an intellectual life of some kind we cannot long preserve  our nationality. Every Irish national movement of recent years has drawn a great portion of its power from the literary movement started by Davis, but that movement is over, and it is not possible to live for ever upon the past. A living Ireland must have a living literature .
W. P. Ryan (The Irish Literary Revival, 1894): [Yeats lecturing in the opening season at the Leinster Hall . See also Ryans sketch of Yeats, one of our youngest writers [photo-portrait facing p.132] … When he was about twenty years old his name began to grow familiar to readers of the Irish Fireside and one or two other Dublin publications. Critical essays of a  novel nature, and dreamy and fanciful poems were his contributions. He had a triumph in 1888, when his Wanderings of Oisin was published … a new poetical personality … new world of poetical materials … ranked henceforth as the most imaginative of Irish poets; but his imagination had often the simple air of reality. Occasional extravagance there was, but it was in keeping with that faery of vision and phantasy where the young poet was most at home … Countess Kathleen … meant to be as expressive of Christian Ireland as the earlier work was of Pagan Ireland … not as successful … Presumably modern, the best part of the drama was that wherein the author lapsed back to the mystical and elfin [where instead] there was scope for grimmest tragedy [in the Famine topic] … Mr Yeats could never awe us, his Mephistopheles would dream dreams, and speak the fairy tongue … returned to his old ground [with] The Celtic Twilight … [quotes] I would go down and dwell among the Sidhe. The Sidhe, I think, have come to dwell with him. They are as real to him as the green grass … That he will be a great poet depends to a large extent on the possibility of his developing other characteristics to the same degree as that already attained by his imaginative faculty and power of vision. He must shake himself free from the passing craze of occultism and symbolism, and realise that the universe is not tenanted solely by [?souths] and sheogues .
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George (“AE”) Russell (1) [letter to Carrie Clements Rea, 6 Sept. 1894:] ‘I am glad you have met Yeats. He is really a poet, exuberant, with a royal imagination the like of which has not been heard in England since the time of Keats and Shelley. (Letters From AE, ed. Alan Denson, London: Abelard Schuman 1961, p.15.)
George (“AE”) Russell (2) [letter to Yeats, 3rd April 1897:] Your visionary faculty has an insight more tender than the moralist knows of. Just in the same way as [S. J.] OGrady always seems to detect under the rude act the spirit of defiant and heroic manhood, so you unveil beneath excess and passion a love for spiritual beauty expressing itself pathetically in the life of this wayward outcast. That insight is indeed an ennobling thing to impart, and I suppose just because the highest things are the most dangerous you will find a number of people, who have not got your mental balance, using your visionary revelation of a hidden spirit seeking for beauty as justification and defence of passions which have no justification, except that they are the radiations of a spirit which can find no higher outlet. The Rosa Alchemica is a most wonderful piece of prose. Everything in it thought and word [sic] are so rich that they seem the gathering in the temple of the mind of thousands of pilgrim rays returning and leaving there their many experiences. / A book sustained at that level throughout would be one of the greatest things in literature. I notice a change in your lyrics. They are much simpler, more classic, and with a better feeling for the form of the idea, nothing of unnecessary beauty in them. You used to be carried away by every lovely fancy into side images which marred a little the directness and effect of the central plan. The little song in the Rose in Shadow is simply perfect. Long ago you would have said some beautiful thing, say about the sea or stars in this, which we would have forgiven for its beauty, but which would have destroyed the passionate intensity of the poem as a whole. Your art gets more perfect in these things. I suppose it is a necessity of your life that you must write these dreams in prose, but never forget that poetry is their proper language. They are there uncontested. When you put them into prose you invite opposition and argument, from which may the gods save us. I wish I could congratulate myself upon such a steady movement to mastery over my art as you. [… &c.] (For full text, see infra.)
George (AE) Russell (3): [Yeats] may be regarded as the pivot around which Irish literature turned from instinctive to conscious art. Further: To sum it all up, Mr Yeats, in common with other literary men, is trying to ennoble literature by naming it religious rather than secular, by using his art for the revelation of another world rather than to depict this one. (Literary Ideals in Ireland, in Literary Ideals in Ireland, ed. John Eglinton, 1899; rep. in Mark Storey, ed., Poetry and Ireland since 1800, 1988, pp.123-26).
George (AE) Russell (5) - letter to George Moore (6 April 1916): Your account of Yeats is amusing, quite in the Ave Vale mood, but I dont think you have dealt seriously with the psychology of Yeats. He began about the time of The Wind in the Reeds to do two things consciously, one to create a style in literature the second to create or rather to recreate W. B. Yeats in a style which would harmonise with the literary style. People call this posing. It is really putting on a mask, like his actors, Greek or Japanese, a mask over life The actor must talk to the emotion on the mask, which is a fixed emotion. W. B. Yeats began twenty years ago vigorously defending Wilde against the charge of being a poseur. He said it was merely living artistically, and it was the duty of  everybody to have a conception of themselves, and he intended to conceive of himself. The present W.B.Y. is the result. The error in his psychology is, that life creates the form, but he seems to think the form creates life. If you have a style, he argued once with me, you will have something to say. He seems also to have thought though he never said so, that if you make a picturesque or majestic personality of yourself in appearance, you will become as wonderful inside as outside. He has created the mask and he finds himself obliged to speak in harmony with the fixed expression of the mask, and that accounts for the lifelessness of his later talk and writing. His memories of childhood are the most vacant things man ever wrote, pure externalities, well written in a dead kind of way, but quite dull except for the odd flashes. The boy in the book might have become a grocer as well as a poet. Nobody could be astonished if this had been issued as a nvoel, part one, to find in part two the hero had for some reason given up thinking about literature and become a merchant. Why does he do it? We are interested in Yeatss inner mind, whatever it is, but not his anecdotes of things he saw and whose effect on his own mood is not clear. He bores me terribly now and he was once so interesting. You are a humorist and a novelist, and he is subject to your art. I want life and thought, and he talks solemn platitudes under the impression that this nonsense is arcane wisdom. Any bit of pedantry a couple of hundred years old seems to him to have a kind of divine authority. But in a way we are interested in him still because of his past. We go to hear him as we go to see the tomb of Shakespeare or the Italian garden where Keats lies. The ony difference is that Yeats is his own coffin and memorial tablet. Why cant he be natural? Such a delightful creature he was when young! And at rare moments when he forgets himself he is still interesting as ever almost. (In Alan Denson, ed., Letters from AE, London: Abelard Schuman 1961, pp.109-10; quoted extensively in Monk Gibbon, foreword to same, p.xii.)
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James Joyce (1): It is equally unsafe at present to say of Mr. Yeats that he has or has not genius. In aim and form The Wind Among the Reeds is poetry of the highest order, and The Adoration of the Magi (as story which one of the great Russians might have written) shows what Mr Yeats can do when he breaks with the half-gods. But an aesthete has a floating will, and Mr Yeatss treacherous instinct of adaptability must be blamed for his recent association with a platform from which even self-respect should have urged him to refrain. (The Day of the Rabblement, 1901; Critical Writings, ed. Ellsworth Mason & Richard Ellmann, Viking  1965, p.70f.)
James Joyce (3): Richard Ellmann (James Joyce, 1959, &c.) notes that John [V.] Kelleher reads the diagram in Finnegans Wake [FW293] as one of the many places where Joyce parodies A Vision, and quotes Joyces remark to Eugene Jolas that he was deeply absorbed by the colossal conception, only regretting that Yeats did not put all this into creative work. (Ellmann, 608n.) Kelleher is also the recipient of acknowledgements for his Irish lore in Harry Levin, James Joyce: A Critical Introduction  (Faber 1944).
James Joyce (4): In Ireland, Island of Saints and Sages Joyce seems to lay claim to Yeats as a friend when he writes: We Irishmen, said Oscar Wilde one day to a friend of mine [viz., W. B. Yeats], have done nothing, but we are the greatest talkers since the time of the Greeks. (Critical Writings, NY: Viking Press 1966, p.174.)
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Maud Gonne (1): Without Yeats there would have been no literary revival in Ireland. Without the inspiration of that revival and the glorification of beauty and heroic virtuee I doubt if there would have been an Easter week. There were poets and writers who led Irish youth to die, that Ireland might live; and because of them and their writings, when they were crushed by the brute force of England, the people did not yield as they did after the crushing of the Fenian Rising. (Yeats and Ireland, in Stephen Gwynn, ed., Scattering Branches [rep. edn., Edinburgh: R. & R. Clarke, 1990, p.27; quoted in John McGovern, MA Diss UUC 2002.)
Francis Bickley, J. M. Synge and the Irish Dramatic Movement (London: Constable; NY: Houghton Mifflin 1912), On Yeatss meeting with Synge during the latters ‘days of symbolism in Paris: At this work Mr. William Butler found him in Paris, in 1897 or thereabouts, living in the state of poverty implied by a top floor in the Latin quarter. Mr. Yeats saw at once that the poems and essays Synge showed him were of no value, merely poor examples of the morbidities of the time, “images reflected from mirror to mirror”. “He had wandered”, writes the poet in his preface to Synges Well of the Saints, among people whose life is as picturesque as the middle ages, playing his fiddle to Italian sailors, and listening to stories in Bavarian words, but life had cast no light on his writings.” Now it so happened that in these dying moment of the last century Mr. Yeats was at his grand climacteric. Not only was he, as it befell, nel nezzo del cammin di nosta vita [Dante], but he was also suffering a reaction against the influences of the day, and seeking  simpler modes. He, too, had ventured, none more boldly, intot he mysterious caves of symbolism,.. and had returned from his journey with much garnered wisdom, but with a new love for the sun. She he spoke his mind to his new friend. “Give up Paris”, he said, “you will never create anything by reading Racine, and Arthur Symons will always be a better critic of French literature. Go to the Aran Islands. Live there as if you were one of the people themselves; express a life that has never found expression.” Many young Irish writers have profited by Mr. Yeats clear-sighted and uncompromising criticism; but non more so than John Synge. (pp.11-12.) Further: ‘Rightly to appreciate this movement, it is necessary to understand, rather in its  organic development than in its individual manifestations, the work of the man who for nearly twenty years has been the dominant figure in Irish letters. It has been shown how a crisis in Mr. Yeats life, rather than Synges own, determined the latters destiny. So with almost the whole of modern Irish literature, both poetry and drama, its progress is inextricably interwoven with the spiritual progress of William Butler Yeats. (Ibid., pp.49-50.)
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St. John Ervine (1): He is, so far as I am aware, the only English-speaking poet who did not write a poem about the war, a fact which is at once significant of the restraint he imposes on huimself and of his isolation from the common life of his time. I have never met any one who seems so unaware of contemporary affairs as Mr Yeats, and this unawareness is due, not to affectionate, but to sheer lack of interest. He probably would not have known of the War at all had not the Germans dropped a bomb near his lodgings off the Euston Road. (Impressions of My Elders, 1923, p.280; cited in Keith Jeffrey, Irish Culture and the Great War, in Bullán, Autumn 1994, pp.90-91.)
Ezra Pound (1) - memoir of Yeats at Stone Cottage, in Pisan Cantos (Canto LXXXIII): as it were the wind in the chimney / but was in reality Uncle William / downstairs composing / that had made a great Peeeeacock / ion the proide ov his oiye / had made a great peeeeeeecock in the … / made a great peacock / in the proide ov his oyyee // proide ov his oy-ee / as indeed he had, and perdurable // a great peacock aere perennius … // at Stone Cottage in Sussex by the waste moor / (or whatever) and the holly bush / who would not eat ham for dinner / because peasants eat ham for dinner / despite the excellent quality / and the please of having it hot. Cf. Yeatss lines, Whats riches to him / That has made a great peacock / With the pride of his eye? … His ghost will be gay / Adding feather to feather / For the pride of his eye. (The Peacock, 1914.) Also: Neath Ben Bulbens buttocks lies / Bill Yeats, a poet twoice the soize / Of William Shakespeare, as they say / Down Ballkillywuchlin way. (From Pavannes and Divagations, p.288; cited as epigraph to Daniel Albright, ed., Poems, p.xvii); also, Sligo in heaven murmured uncle William / when the mist finally settled down on Tigullio (Cantos 77, 473); and comment on Constantinople, Mr Yeats called it Byzantium, 96, 661); further, and Uncle William dawdling around Notre Dame / in search of whatever / paused to admire the symbol / with Notre Dame standing inside it (Cantos, p.563; cited in Denis Donoghue, We Irish, 1986, p.48f.); Willie who dreamed of nobility / And Jim the comedian singing: Blarney castle me darlin / youre nothing now but a StOWne. (Pisan Cantos, LXXIV; cited in Donoghue, op. cit., p.106.)
Ezra Pound (3), ABC of Reading (Routledge 1934; New edn. Faber 1951; pb. edn. 1961; reiss. 1991): W. B. Yeats is sufficiently venerated to be cited now in a school book. The gulf between Homer and Virgil can be illustrated profanely by one of Yeats' favourite anecdotes. A plain sailor man took a notion to study Latin, and his teacher tried him with Virgil; after many lessons he asked him something about the hero. Said the sailor: What hero? Said the teacher: What hero, why, Aeneas, the hero. Said the sailor: 'Ach, a hero, him a hero? Bigob, I tought he waz a priest. Note: Pound goes on to cites a line of Yeats as an exhibit of self-evident condensation (i.e., charged) in verse: The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs. (Ibid., p.96.)
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T. S. Eliot (1): Born into a world in which the doctrine of Art for Arts Sake was generally accepted, and living on into one in which art has been asked to be instrumental to social purposes, he held firmly to the right view which is between these, though not in any way a compromise between them, and showed that an artist, by serving his art with entire integrity, is at the same time rendering the greatest service he can to his own nation and to the whole world. (Yeats, in On Poetry and Poets, NY 1957, p.307; prev. as Do., Faber & Faber, 1957 [262pp.]; quoted in Lucy McDiarmid, Saving Civilisation: Yeats, Eliot and Auden Between the Wars, Cambridge UP 1984, p.xiii; and see McDiarmids further remarks, infra.)
T. S. Eliot, reviewing The Cutting of the Agate, in A Foreign Mind, in Athenaeum, 4653 (4 July 1919), pp.552-23: we are confirmed in the conviction - confirmed in a baffling and disturbing conviction - that its author, as much in his prose as in his verse, is not of this world - this world, of course, being our visible planet with whatever our theology or myth may conceive as below or above it. (p.552). In 1920, however, Eliot was writing to Ottoline Morrell that the found Yeats really one of the very small number of people with whom one can talk profitably about poetry, and I found him altogether stimulating. (Letters of T. S. Eliot, Vol. 1, ed. Valerie Eliot, London: Faber & Faber 1988, p.611; all quoted in Ronald Schuchard, The Tower: Yeatss anti-Modernist Monument, in The Living Stream [being] Yeats Annual, 18, 2013, p.122.)
T. S. Eliot [a 70th birthday tribute to W. B. Yeats in 1935]: [I]t should be apparent at least that Mr. Yeats has been and is the greatest poet of his time [...] At no time was he less out-of-date than today, among men twenty and forty years his juniors. Development to this extent is not merely genius, it is character; and it sets a standard which his juniors should seek to emulate, without hope to equal. (Criterion, 14, July 1935, pp.614-15; Schuchard, op. cit., 2013, p.145.)
T. S. Eliot (4): His [Yeatss] remoteness is not an escape from this world, for he is innocent of any world to escape from; his procedure is blameless, but he does not start from where we do […] There is something of this crudity, and much of this egoism, about what we called Irish literature. (A Foreign Mind, quoted in Emer Nolan, James Joyce and Irish Nationalism, Routledge, 1995, p.7, citing Cairns Craig, Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry, 1982, p.112.)
T. S. Eliot (7) [prob. The Cutting of an Agate, in Athenæum, 4 July 1919]: The mind of W. B. Yeats is extreme in egoism, and, as often with egoism, remains a little crude; crude, indeed, as from its remoteness one would expect. There is something of this crudity, and much of this egoism, about what is called Irish Literature: the egoism which obstructs from facing, and the crudity which remains through not having had to face direct contacts. We know also of an evasion, or rather an evacuation of reality by the very civilized; but people civilized to that extent are seldom artists, and Mr. Yeats is always an artist. His crudity and egoism are present in other writers who are Irish; justified by exploitation to the point of greatness, in the later work of Mr. James Joyce. (q. source; quoted in Denis Donoghues review of the assessments Yeats, Eliot and Pound made of each others work, in Dublin Review of Books, Summer 2009 - online [11.06.2009]; see also under Joyce, Commentary > Eliot, supra). [See also quotation from same by Ron Schuchard, supra.]
James Stephens (BBC Broadcast, 1948): He worried about love, conceiving it as a passion, as a drama, and not the simplest, the most abundant thing in our otherwise bedevilled world, for love is complete trust, unremitting attention …. He thought he could pin it down and rhyme it into reason …. Love and pity and hate were not absolutely real to him … ((Poetry and Drama, 1951, p.20; quoted in T. R. Henn, The Lonely Tower: Studies in the Poetry of W. B. Yeats, London: Methuen 1965 [Rev. Edn.], p.65.)
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P. S. OHegarty: [Yeatss poems] became national and had their revolutionary influence, because the whole man and his whole poetry were national in the broad sense. (W. B. Yeats and the Revolutionary Ireland of His Time, in Dublin Magazine, XIV, No. 3, July-Sept. 1939, p.22; quoted in John McGovern, MA Diss. UUC 2002.)
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Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde (1974), among extensive remarks on Yeats, Yeats writes of the Munster poets Andrew Magrath, OSullivan the Red, John MacDonnell, John OCullen [lament over Timoleague], and OHiffernan the blind who in his old age loved to stand listening while the ploughboys in the hedge school droned out some Greek poet &c. Yeats, Popular Ballad Poetry of Ireland, in The Leisure Hour, Nov. 1889; written in 1887 (see Wade, ed., Letters, p.48.) [n., 208] Daly notes that Yeatss remarks here and in the prefaces to A Book of Irish Verse (1895) and Oxford Book of Modern Verse (1936) constitute little more than a paraphrase of notes given by John ODaly in the bilingual collections Poets of Munster, first ser., and Reliques of Irish Jacobite Poetry. . Hyde wrote in his diary for 29 Jan. 1887: bored to death by [Yeatss] blather [gur bhian se an ceann diom beag nach len a chaint/he nearly took my head off with his talk] at Dowden. For Katherine Tynans comments on Yeatss contribution to Irish writing, see Tynan RX [Daly 131].
Douglas Goulding: One of his greatest triumphs in London was the way in which he stormed 18 Woburn Buildings, the Celtic stronghold of W. B. Yeats, took charge of his famous Mondays, precisely as he took charge of the South Lodge tennis parties, and succeeded in reducing him from master to disciple, The later Yeats which is now so universally admired, was unmistakable influenced by Pound. I shall never forget my surprise, when Ezra took me for the first time to one of Yeatss Mondaysat the way in which he dominated the room, distributed Yeatss cigarettes and Chianti, and laid down the law about poetry. Poor golden-bearded Sturge Moore, who sat in a corner with a large musical instrument by his side (on which he was never given a chance of performing) endeavoured to join in the discussion on prosody -, a subject on which he believed himself not entirely ignorant, but Ezra promptly reduced him to a glum silence. My own emotions on this particular evening, since I do not possess Ezras transatlantic brio, were an equal blend of reverence and a desire to giggle. I was sitting next to Yeats on a settle when a young Indian woman in a sari came and squatted at his feet and asked him to sing Innisfree, saying that she was certain he had composed it to an Irish air. Yeats was anxious to comply with this request but, unfortunately, like so many poets, he was completely unmusical, indeed almost tone deaf. He compromised by a sort of dirgelike incantations calculated to send any unhappy giggler into hysterics. I bore it as long as I could, but at last the back of the settle began to shake, and I received the impact, of one of the poets nasty glances from behind his pince-nez. Mercifully I recovered, but it was an awful experience. (Douglas Goulding, South Lodge: reminiscences of Violet Hunt, Ford Madox Ford and The English Review Circle, Constable 1943, pp.48-9; papers of Alan Warner, UUC.)
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George Moore (1) - Hail & Farewell (1911-14): His play [The Land of Hearts Desire] neither pleased nor displeased; it struck me as inoffensive, but himself provoked a violent antipathy as he strode to and forth at the back of the dress circle, a long black cloak drooping from his shoulders, a soft black sombrero on his head, a voluminous black silk tie flowing from his collar, his loose black trousers dragging untidily over his long, heavy feet a man of such excessive appearance that I could not do otherwise could I? than mistake him for an Irish parody of the poetry that I had seen all my life strutting its rhythmic way in the alleys of the Luxembourg Gardens, preening its rhymes by the fountains, excessive in habit and gait. (Ave, 1911, p.45; also cited in Tuohy, Yeats: An Illustrated Biography, Macmillan 1976, p.94.) Note also the more extended passage in which Yeats berates the middle-classes stamping his feet, and working himself into a great temper while Moore comments sardonically on the Yeatses own social origins (Vale, 1947 pp. 113-15, cited in Jeffares, A New Commentary on the Poems, 1988, pp.99-100); Further, Moores malicious view of Yeats, returning from a financially successful American tour in 1910, on the sacrifice [of] our lives for Art, everybody began searching his memory for the sacrifices that Yeats had made, asking himself in what prison Yeats had languished, what rags he had worn, what broken vituals he had eaten. As far as anybody could remember, he had always lived comfortably, sitting down to regular meals, and the old green cloak that he was keeping with his profession of romantic poet he had exchanged for the magnificent fur coat which distracted our attention from what he was saying, so opulently did the coat cover the back of the chair out of which he had risen … we were lead to understand that by virtue of our subscriptions we should cease to belong the middle classes […, &c.]; Hail & Farewell; Vale, p.162-3; 1914 edn.; quoted in Jeffares, New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984, pp.119-20].
George Moore (2) - Moores account of Yeatss reaction to the Aran Islands and the Irish peasantry on first acquaintance: one could learn to write, their speech being living speech, flowing out of the habits of their lives, struck out of life itself. (Ave, p.55-56; quoted in Richard Ellmann, Yeats: The Man and the Mask, 1948, p.151.)
George Moore (4) wrote in the English Review: ‘He [Yeats] began to thunder like Ben Tillett himself against the middle classes, and all because the middle classes did not dip their hands into their pockets and give Lane the money he craved for his contribution …. and we asked ourselves why Willie Yeats should feel himself called upon to denounce the class to which he himself belonged essentially: one side excellent mercant millers and ship-owners and on the other side a portrait painter of rare talent … (Quoted in A. N. Jeffares, ‘Yeats the Public Man, in Denis Donoghue, ed., The Integrity of Yeats, Mercier 1964, p.27; Jeffares adds, ‘Yeats was deeply offended. Moore had mixed up two speeches and confused them.) Cf. Moores original version: He began to thunder like Ben Tillett against the middle classes, stamping his feet, working himself into a great temper, and all because the middle classes did not dip their hands into their pockets and give Lane the money he wanted for his exhibition. When he spoke the words the middle classes, one would have thought that he was speaking against a personal foe, and we looked around asking each other with out eyes where on earth did Willie Yeats had picked up the strange idea that none but titled and carriage-folk can appreciate pictures. And we asked ourselves why Willie Yeats should feel himself called uon to denounce his own class, millers and shipowners on one side, and the other a portrait-painter of distinction. (Vale, Chap. 7; in Richard Allen Cave, ed., Ave, Salve, Vale, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1976, p.540; quoted in R. F. Foster, Protestant Magic: W. B. Yeats and the Spell of Irish History in Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish History and English History, London: Allen Lane/Penguin 1993, p.214.)
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Augusta Gregory [Lady Gregory], expressed the fear that prolonged contact with George Moore might break up the mould of W. B. Yeatss mind and, Meredith Cary contests, in so doing she ‘helped drive Moore toward the work which finally constituted the most telling conflict between the two men. (p.94 in Cary, ‘Yeats and Moore: An Autobiographical Conflict, Éire-Ireland, 4, 3 (Autumn 1969), pp.94-109.)
J. M. Hone, William Butler Yeats: The Poet in Contemporary Ireland [Irishmen of today] (Dublin & London: Maunsel 1916; facs. rep. (NY: Haskell Hse. Publ.): Again and again Mr Yeats has recorded his conviction that a man should find his holy land where he first crept upon the floor; but we do not find anything inconsistent with this view in his endeavour to rid Irish literature of its propagandist tendencies, and of what he has called the obsession of public life. He was largely successful. Nowadays few patriots assert that a poem, or story, or play must have some rhymed lesson in national politics if it is to be Irish. What could not meet with much appreciation in Ireland was a philosophy based on a mystical conception of the primacy of poetry. The nationalist public encountered the aesthetic passion for the first time, and all its hostility was aroused as by something unfamiliar and even depraved. [p.55.]
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Louis MacNeice (1) - Poetry of W. B. Yeats (1941): This attachment - essentially a romantic attachment, of the Ireland that Yeats envisaged is not co-extensive with the real Ireland of small farms and small towns but a doorway on the world of Faery - turned him into a polemicist. One of the characteristics of the Nineties movement that he noted in his early Autobiographies was the indifference of the pre-Raphaelites and their followers to generalisations - yet generalisations was Yeats strongest suit. He was a born argufier, equally about nationality, and ethics, and aesthetics. He resolved this contradiction thus [q.p.]; Pater supplied Yeats with a belief in the importance of passion, a belief in the importance of style, a distrust of the vulgar world, and a curious sort of aesthetic pantheism … . […] in his love poetry Yeats repeatedly deplores his beloveds refusal to observe the rules of the game, to content herself with existing merely as a beautiful object. Throughout his life his advice to women is to abjure the intellect and, in particular, political opinions and the critical reason. Their discipline is to be that of the looking glass.  Some of Yeats later strong ideas: To me drama … has been the search for more of manful energy, more of cheerful acceptance of whatever arises out of the logic of events, and for clean outline, instead of those outlines of lyric poetry that are blurred with desire and vague regret. Surely the ideal of culture expressed by Pater can only create feminine souls. Yeats had previously been fascinated by the Irish peasant because he was a person who knew the fairies. It was Synge who brought home to him the value of this brute vitality, of, in Yeatss words all that has edge, all that is salt in the mouth, all that is rough in the hand, all that heightens the emotions by contest, all that stings into life the sense of tragedy. … From time of meeting Synge, Yeatss poetry shows far more recognition of physical man. . Yeats began by ignoring the Godwin and Rousseau and the Plato in Shelley; in his essay on the philosophy of Shelleys Poetry (1900) he spends his time discussing Shelleys symbols - caves, underground rivers, towers, the morning star - and attempts to build out of these a Shelleyan system … ; McNeice: the kind of nationalism which he admired, represented by John OLeary was in decline. The nationalism dominant seemed to him to involve a shocking waste of energy and to have ruined the lives of a number of his friends. It was vulgar …. [46; cont.]
Louis MacNeice (Poetry of W. B. Yeats, 1941) - cont.: MacNeice attributes Yeatss abandonment of the aesthetic and symbol posture to the influence of Synge, who gave him a saltier vision of the substrate and substance of literature. He first quotes Synge: What is highest in poetry is always reaching where the dreamer is leaning out to reality, or where the man of real life is lifted out of it, and in all the poets the greatest have both these elements, that they are supremely engrossed with life, and yet with the wildness of their fancy they are always passing out of what is simple and plain. Then he compares Yeats, in 1906: Art bids us touch and taste and hear and see the world, and shrink from what Blake calls mathematical form, from every abstract thing, from all that is of the brain only, from all that is not a fountain jetting from the entire hopes, memories, and sensations of the body. And finally he concludes: this recognition of the body I would attribute largely to the influence of Synge. [91- cont.]
Louis MacNeice (Poetry of W. B. Yeats, 1941) - cont. [on Yeatsian opposites]: [I]n fighting for a political creed one is following a mythic archetype; in sexual love one is tuning to the music of the spheres.; Yeats had an epigrammatist in him who hardly showed in the early poetry ; Eternity; he quoted from Blake, is in love with the productions of time; or, in the words of an Irish peasant which he was fond of repeating, God possesses the heavens - but he covets the earth.  Yeatsian opposites: in fighting for a political creed one is following a mythic archetype; in sexual love one is tuning to the music of the spheres.
Louis MacNeice (Poetry of W. B. Yeats, 1941) - cont. [on A Vision]: He recounts that when his wife began transmitting the messages … he made them an offer that he would spend the rest of his life explaining and piecing together those scattered sentences. No, was the answer, we have come to give you metaphors for poetry. Spirits had taken the place of Standish OGrady. ; A large section of A Vision consists of the classification of human types. Yeats disregards psychology as much as he disregards economics. According to his friends he was a poor judge of men … Lacking intuitive knowledge of people he declined also to accept explanations offered by professional psychologists … If life is to be conditioned by accidents, the accidents must be supernatural …. [Quotes Yeats:] When I think of any great poetical writer … I comprehend, if I know the lineaments of his life, that the work is the mans flight from his entire horoscope, his struggle in the networks of the stars (Per Amica Silentia Lunae). This principle, of a man desiring his opposite, is worked out in detail in A Vision. 
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Louis MacNeice (2): Yeats was born and bred Protestant (which in Ireland does imply both violence and arrogance) and, whatever his flirtations with the Cabbala, the Upanishads, and so on, and however great and understandable his envy of Maud Gonnes conversion to Rome, his motto to the end was No Surrender. (Quoted in Edna Longley, The Living Stream, 1994, p.135; quoted in Willy Maley, Varieties of Nationalism: Post-Revisionist Irish Studies, in Irish Studies Review, No.15, Summer 1996, pp.34-37, p.36.
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Maurice Headlam, Irish Reminiscences (London: Hale 1947), citing from an early diary: On Wednesday Mr Yeats, the leading Irish poet, came to dinner. He was very late, coming in with the entree, but quite calm about it; he had been seized with the idea of a poem and had stopped to finish it - this being a complete excuse. He has a  fine head and beautiful hair, very dark but beginning to go grey. He talked well and fluently both at dinner and afterwards, but not about literature as I hoped; chiefly about spiritualism. The General had gone to London and there was no one there but Lady Lyttelton, Lady Gregory, Margaret, Hermione and myself. He had seen a ghost, but declined to tell us how. But he described the place, apparently at Lady Gregorys house in Galway; and how, once walking there with A.E. (George Russell) he had turned round to find Æ [George Russell] embracing a tree and explaining that his spirit was being called up into the sap. [Ftn.: I seem from Hones Life of Yeats that it was Sharp (who wrote as Fiona MacLeod) and not Æ who embraced the tree. AE, Hone says, was contemptuous of Sharp. I must have misunderstood Yeats at the Royal Hospital.) (p.36-37.) Further references to Lady Gregory and Yeats incl. an account of a talk given by Yeats on the eternal duality and interaction of things: the sun superimposed on the moo[n], the gold on the silver, the subjective on the objective, and so on, for about an hour. Alas, I cannot remembers what it all led up to, on a wonderful flow of words. (p.48)]