William Butler Yeats: Notes (5)

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The following notes are substantially taken from A. N. Jeffares, A New Commentary to the Poems of W. B. Yeats (Macmillan 1988). For longer version, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism / Major Writers” > Yeats, infra

Parnell’s Funeral and Other Poems [being a section of A Full Moon in March (1935)] - WBY: ‘I found that I had written no verse for two years; ... Perhaps Coole Park where I had escaped from politics, from all that Dublin talked of, when it was shut, shut me out from my theme; or did the subconscious drama that was my imaginative life end with its owner [Lady Gregory]? I decided to force myself to write. ... In ‘At Parnell’s Funeral’ I rhymed passages from a lecture I had given in America; a poem upon mount Meru came spontaneously, but philosophy is a dangerous theme; then I was barren again.’ (Variorum Poems, p.855; cited in Albright, ed., W. B. Yeats: The Poems, 1992, p.750; alluded to in Jeffares, Comm., p.332.) The address that he ‘rhymed’ is printed as ‘Modern Ireland: An Address to American Audiences, 1932-33’, in Robin Skelton & David R. Clark, eds., A Gathering of Essays, Memoirs and Letters from the Massachusetts Review (1965), pp.13-25; note that Yeats’s extensive commentary on the poem is copied from King of the Great Clock Tower in Jeffares, New Commentary, 1984, pp.333-35, and includes allusions to Parnell, Davis, Carleton, Kickham, Shaw, Moore, Standish James O’Grady, Joyce, Synge and O’Flaherty [partly copied under Joyce, infra.]

‘PARNELL’S FUNERAL’, written April 1933; printed in part (ll.16-23) as ‘Introduction to Fighting the Waves’ in Dublin Magazine (April-June 1932); first printed in full in Spectator (19 Oct. 1934), first section being entitled ‘A Parnellite at Parnell’s Funeral’, and the second, ‘Forty Years Later’; ‘the Great Comedian’ is O’Connell; ‘a brighter star’, being the star that supposed fell at Parnell’s funeral; for ‘Cretan barb’, Jeffares refers the reader to a passage in ‘The Stirring of the Bones’ which Yeats annotates very fully in his Autobiographies (pp.372-75), turning on a story by Fiona MacLeod called ‘The Archer’ and on symbolic questions relating to the ‘straight line’ and related symbols; for source of ‘hysteric[a] passio’ see King Lear (II. iv., l.57), and see also Rosa Alchemica: ‘hysterica passio or sheer madness’ (Mythologies, p.278); on ‘quarry’, cf. Goethe’s description of the Irish being a pack of hounds ‘dragging down some noble stag’ (cited in Yeats’s Autobiographies, p.483); ‘the rhyme the rats hear’, cf. As You Like It: ‘I was never so berhymed since Pythagoras’ time that I was an Irish rat which I can hardly remember’ (identified by T. R. Henn, The Lonely Tower, 1950, rev. edn. 1965); note that the Halliday 1856 Edn. of the play cites Irish bard Senchan Torpest as killing 10 rats at Gort (Kenner, A Colder Eye, p.81; Jeffares, A New Commentary, 1984, p.344).

‘ALTERNATIVE SONG FOR THE SEVERED HEAD IN THE KING OF THE GREAT CLOCK TOWER’, prob. written 1934; first printed in Life and Letters (Nov. 1934), concerns Cuchulain, Deirdre and Naoise, and the chess game of the latter with his brothers awaiting death, of which Yeats wrote in that ‘each feels for the other an emotion which has become a supernatural contemplation’ (A Vision, 1925, p.243); also, ‘even the most wise dead can but arrange their memories as we arrange the pieces upon a chess-board’ (Mythologies, p.359; both the foregoing cited in Albright, ed., W. B. Yeats: The Poems, Everyman 1992, p.756).

‘TWO SONGS REWRITTEN FOR THE TUNE’S SAKE’, formerly of 1922; printed in Plays in Prose and Verse (1922), in The Pot of Broth and The Player Queen respectively (the second first appearing in The Dial, Nov. 1922).

‘A PRAYER FOR OLD AGE’, provoked by Ezra Pound’s dislike of ‘intellectual’ poetry; printed in Spectator ( Nov. 1934); Jeffares prints the account of Yeats’s bringing his new poetry to Ezra Pound for criticism (‘Putrid’), from the Pref. to King of the Great Clock Tower.

‘CHURCH AND STATE’, an anti-democratic poem written Aug. 1934, printed as ‘A Vain Hope’ in Spectator (23 Nov. 1934).

Supernatural Songs [being a sub-section of Parnell’s Funeral and Other Poems], incls. I: ‘RIBH AT THE TOMB OF BAILE AND AILINN’, II:‘RIBH DENOUNCES PATRICK’, III: ‘RIBH IN ECSTASY’, IV: ‘THERE’, V: ‘RIBH CONSIDERS CHRISTIAN LOVE INSUFFICIENT’, VI: ‘HE AND SHE’, VII: ‘WHAT MAGIC DRUM?’, VIII: ‘WHENCE HAD THEY COME?’, IX: ‘THE FOUR AGES OF MAN’, X: ‘CONJUNCTIONS’, XI: ‘A NEEDLE’S EYE’, XII: ‘MERU [all annot. as infra.]

‘RIBH AT THE TOMB OF BAILE AND AILINN’, written 24 July 1934; Yeats called Ribh ‘an imaginary critic of St Patrick [whose] Christianity come perhaps from Egypt like much early Christianity, echoes pre-Christian thought’ (A Full Moon in March, 1935); ‘Saint Patrick must have found in Ireland, for he was not its first missionary, men whose Christianity had come from Egypt, and retained characteristics of those older faiths ... I consider Ribh, were it not for his ideas about the Trinity, an orthodox man’ (Variorum Poems, pp.837-38); see also Yeats’s account of the poem ‘in his head’ in a letter to Olivia Shakespear, 24 July 1934: ‘a monk reads his breviary at midnight upon the tomb of long-dead lovers on the anniversary of their death, for on that night they are united above the tomb, their embrace being not partial but a conflagration of the entire body and so shedding light he reads by.’ (Letters, ed. Wade, p.824; Jeffares, New Commentary, p.352); Yeats wrote to Mrs Shakespear on the point that Swedenborg had called the ‘sexual intercourse of angels’ a ‘conflagration of the whole being’ (21 Feb. 1933), and ensued in a further letter, ‘Yet why no take Swedenborg literally ... he somewhere describes two spirits meeting and as they touch they become a single conflagration’ (9 March 1933); Jeffares infers a connection with the role of the priest and the lovers in the Noh play Nishikigi, and cites remarks by Yeats in his Introduction to Pound’s Certain Noble Plays of Japan (1916), where ‘the lovers, now that in an aery body they must sorrow for unconsummated love, are “tangled up as the grass patterns are tangled”. (Essays and Introductions, p.234.)

‘RIBH DENOUNCES PATRICK’, composed late July 1934, printed in London Mercury, and Poetry (Chicago), Dec. 1934; partly included in letter to Mrs Shakespeare, 24 July 1934, with the comment, ‘we beget and bear because of the incompleteness of our love’ (Letters, ed. Wade, p.824); Smaragdine Tablet, attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, publ. in Latin 1541; Ellmann records that Frank O’Connor answered Yeats, on hearing this poem, ‘No, I didn’t understand a word of it’ (Identity of Yeats, p.282).

‘RIBH IN ECSTASY’, 1934-?early 1935; poss. addressed to Maud Gonne, or Frank O’Connor [as supra].

‘THERE’, ‘there’ is the 13th cone, and also the adverb of place by which MacKenna refers to the ‘Divine Sphere’ in his trans. of Plotinus (‘There, is all the stars ... and sun’); cf. also Böehme, ‘life windeth itself Inwards to the Sun’; note that Jeffares cites in full the same passage here as he does in annotating ‘Chosen’ in ‘A Woman Young and Old’ (Jeffares, New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984, pp.329, 354); Albright considers that Ribh is illuminated by divine sexuality in the first poem of the series, develops a theory about it in the second, and participates in it in the third; he also notes mirror image in connection with ‘begetting’ in The Herne’s Egg, and adverts to ‘the divine reflexivity’ as figured in the self-delighting happiness of ‘A Prayer for My Daughter’ (Daniel Albright, W. B. Yeats: The Poems, Everyman 1992, p.761).

‘RIBH CONSIDERS CHRISTIAN LOVE INSUFFICIENT’, written 1934, printed in London Mercury and Poetry (Chicago), Dec. 1934; ‘I study hatred ...’, appears to be answered by Yeats’s note on his communicators, who said: ‘The soul has to enter some significant relationship with God, even if this be one of hatred’ (Yeats’s journal, quoted in Ellmann, The Identity of Yeats, p.283, and cited in Jeffares, New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984, p.355).

‘HE AND SHE’, written prior to 25 Aug. 1934, printed in London Mercury and Poetry (Chicago), Dec. 1934; see letter to Mrs Shakespear: ‘it is, of course, my central myth’ (25 Dec. 1934).

‘WHAT MAGIC DRUM?’, first printed in Full Moon in March, it deals with a union like that in ‘Leda and the Swan’.

‘WHENCE HAD THEY COME?’, written prob. 1934, first printed in Full Moon in March, on the same theme of spiritual and temporal union making for new historical epochs.

‘THE FOUR AGES OF MAN’, written 6 Aug. 1934, printed in London Mercury and Poetry (Chicago), Dec. 1934; Jeffares’s New Commentary copies Yeats’s explications of the symbolic value of the elements Earth, Water, Air, and Fire in letters to Olivia Shakespear (24 July 1934, Letters, pp.823-24; 7 Aug. 1924, Letters, p.826).

‘CONJUNCTIONS’, written before 25 Aug. 1934, printed in London Mercury and Poetry (Chicago), Dec. 1934.

‘A NEEDLE’S EYE’, uncertain date of composition; printed in London Mercury and Poetry (Chicago), Dec. 1934.

‘MERU’, written prob. Aug. 1933-June 1934; Yeats wrote this poem in conjunction with the introduction to Shri Purohit Swami’s The Holy Mountain [being the Story of A Pligrimage to Lake Mãnas and of Initiation on Mount Kailaãs in Tibet, by Bhagawãn Shri Hamsa, trans. from the Marãthi by Shri Purohit Swãmi (1934) - which he proofed in 1934 and which he called ‘one of those rare books that are fundamental’ (letter to Mrs Shakespeare, Letters, ed. Wade, p.823). The book concerns the visit of the Swami’s friend [Bhagwan Shri Hamsa] to Mount Kailas, the Tibetan twin of Mount Meru at the centre of the Hindu Paradise (though Albright calls it simply ‘a mountain in Tibet’: W. B. Yeats: The Poems, Everyman 1992, p.767.) Jeffares compares the hermits to Shelley’s Ahasuerus (‘a new version’; Commentary, p.358.) In “The Holy Mountain” (Essays and Introductions, Macmillan 1961, pp.448-73), preface Yeats notes: ‘What the artist perceives through a medium, the saint perceives immediately.’ (p.462), and claims that the sage can ‘find some cavern upon Meru, and so pass out of life’ (p.469), while the state of enlightenment prior to Turiya is known as the ‘ravening tongue [when] the man has disappeared as the [...] musician into his music.’ (ibid., p.462).

"Meru"
Image supplied on Facebook by Simon Loeke; see larger copy - attached.

Note: Wikipedia’s entry for the painter Thomas Cole’s 5-part series of paintings called “The Course of Empire” includes a quotation from Lord Byron’s Childe Harold:

There is the moral of all human tales,

’Tis but the same rehearsal of the past.
First freedom and then Glory - when that falls
Wealth, vice, corruption - barbarism at last.
And History, with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page ....

—Childe Harold, Canto IV.

Of the painting series - made in 1833-36 - Wikipedia writes: It is notable in part for reflecting popular american sentiment s of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilisation, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay. (See “Course of Empire” in Wikipedia - online.)

In another poem called “Darkness”, Byron relates a dream of fallen empire in which the following lines occurs: ’I had a dream, which was not all a dream, / The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars / Did wander darkling in the eternal space, / Rayless and pathless, and the icy earth / Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air; / Morn came and went - and came, and brought no day, / And men forgot their passion in the dread / Of this their desolation; and all hearts / Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light: / And they did live by watchfires - and the thrones, / The palaces of crowned kings - the huts, / The habitations of all things which dwell, / Were burnt for beacons, cities were consumed ...’. [For pages images of Byron’s poem - see jpegs - as attached.]

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New Poems (1938): Jeffares explains that the [t.p.] heading “Last Poems / 1936-39” in the Collected Poems (1950) -are properly the New Poems (Cuala 1938) i.e., “The Gyres” “Are You Content” - while the remainder pertain to Last Poems and Two Plays (Cuala 10939), a collection for which Yeats provided an MS order list, but the publisher supplied a title. His New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, (London: Macmillan 1984) follows the order of the originals [keyed to Richard J. Finneran, The Poems: A New Edition, 1984], and introduces a parenthetical heading - viz., [Last Poems, (1938-39)] - incorporating those in the original, posthumous edition of that name (i.e., “Under Ben Bulben” to “Politics”. Jeffares (p.359) supplies a copy the MS list of poems in the order intended by Yeats, given in Curtis Bradford, ‘Yeats’s Last Poems Again’, in Yeats Centenary Papers, ed., Jeffares (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1965).

‘THE GYRES’, written July 1936-Jan. 1937; ‘Old Rocky Face’, prob. Ahasuerus, Shelley’s Jewish cave-dweller in Hellas, and the counterpart of ‘a young man, his hair blanched with sorrow, studying philosophy in some lonely tower’ (see Autobiographies, pp.171-73); Ahasuerus is present at Phase 17 in A Vision (AV, B, p.141), which also contains Shelley and Dante along with a ‘young man whose hair has grown white from the burden of his thoughts.’ (AV, B., p.143); note that this personage is at the core of T. R. Henn’s interpretation of Yeats (The Lonely Tower, 1950; rev. edn. 1965); Yeats quotes Empedocles (c-493-433 b.c.) in the Great Wheel section of A Vision: ‘[T]he Concord of Empedocles fabricates all things into a “homogenous sphere” and then Discord separates the elements and so makes the world we inhabit’ (A Vision, p.67; Albright, ed., W. B. Yeats: The Poems, Everyman 1992, p.772); ‘When Discord ... has fallen into the lowest depths of the vortex ... Concord has reached the centre, into it do all things come together so as to be only one, not all at once but gradually from different quarters, and as they come Discord retires to the extreme boundary [... &c.] (AV, B, p.67-68; Jeffares, New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984, pp.361-62); [For prose expressions of Yeats’s doctrine of “Tragic Joy”, see Ricorso, Commentary, supra.]

‘LAPIS LAZULI’, completed on 25 July 1936, printed in London Mercury (March 1938) and New Republic (April 1938); discussed fully in Ellmann, The Identity of Yeats, pp.185-87; based on lapis lazuli figure given to Yeats by Capt. Harry [Harvey] Clifton on 4 July 1935; ‘nothing drastic’ refers to Rhineland occupation by Germany, 1936, &c.; Jeffares assigns the source of King Billy’s ‘bomb-balls’ to a ‘The Battle of the Boyne’, a poem in H. Halliday Sparling, ed., Irish Minstrelsy (1888) [also cited in Russell Alspach, Irish Poetry from the English Invasion to 1798, Penn. UP 1959, p.44; the lines in question being repeated in an Orange ballad by ‘Fermanagh True Blue’; see Robert Young, supra]; Jeffares cites comments on the poem in Frank O’Connor, The Backward Look, 1967, pp.174-75); Callimachus is the reputed inventor of the Corinthian capital; an account of the lapis lazuli, showing monks ascending a mountain towards a little temple, is given in Frank O’Connor (op. cit.) and in Yeats’s letter to Dorothy Wellesley of 6 July 1935 (Letters on Poetry from W. B. Yeats to Dorothy Wellesley [Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964.], p.8).

‘IMITATED FROM THE JAPANESE’, written end of Dec. 1136, finalised 20 Oct. 1937; translation of a Japanese hokku, being a poem 17 syllables in lines of 5, 7, and 5, and prob. sourced in Asatoro Miyamori, An Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern (1932).

‘SWEET DANCER’, written Jan. 1937, printed in London Mercury (April 1938); concerns Margaret Collis, pseud. Margaret Ruddock, also the ‘Crazed Girl’ of that poem; the events of her breakdown in Barcelona on the day of her visit to Yeats in Majorca is relayed in Yeats’s letter to Mrs Shakespear (Letters, ed. Wade, p.856); Jeffares (Commentary, p.367, and Albright, ed., W. B. Yeats: The Poems, Everyman 1992, pp.776-77) both quote in full the poem Margot that Yeats sent her, first publ. in Roger McHugh, Ah Sweet Dancer: A Correspondence (1970), ending with the lines: ‘You shall have time to turn away/And cram those eyes with day’.

‘THE THREE BUSHES’, written July 1936, printed in London Mercury (Jan. 1937), based on unrhymed original by Dorothy Wellesley, and the subject of a run of letters from Yeats in which he sends several ‘improved’ versions and receives answers to his ‘slanging’ criticisms of hers; Yeats considered that they had ‘triumphed over each other’ and thought of Shakespeare’s ‘The Turtle and the Phoenix’ (Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, pp.69-82).

‘THE LADY’S FIRST SONG’, written by 20 Nov. 1936 [sic].

‘THE LADY’S SECOND SONG’, July 1936, originating in the same exchange.

‘THE LADY’S THIRD SONG’, written July 1936.

‘THE LOVER’S SONG’, written 9 Nov. 1936, sent to Wellesley with accompanying letters regarding sundry sexual images in Botticelli, Moreau, and Fragonard, and employing the phrase ‘the touch from behind the curtain’(Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.102).

‘THE CHAMBERMAID’S FIRST SONG’, written Nov. 1936; ‘weak as a worm’ was obnoxious to Dorothy Wellesley; cf.

‘helpless as a worm’ in ‘Phases of the Moon’.

‘THE CHAMBERMAID’S SECOND SONG’, written Nov. 1936.

‘AN ACRE OF GRASS’, written Nov. 1936, printed in Atlantic Monthly and London Mercury (April 1938); ‘an old house’ is Riversdale, Rathfarnham.

‘WHAT THEN?’, prob. written 1936 (acc. Jeffares, New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984, p.378) and given to The Erasmian (April 1937); called by Yeats a ‘melancholy biographical poem’ in a letter to Edith Shackleton Heald (Letters, ed. Wade, p.895.) Jeffares quotes at length from Neitszche’s conclusion of The Dawn of Day, headed ‘We Aeronauts of the Intellect’ (‘... And where then are we aiming at?’) Bibl. John Eglinton, ‘Yeats at the High School’, in Erasmian, XXX (June 1939).

‘BEAUTIFUL LOFTY THINGS’, prob. written 1937; note title-echo of phrase in ‘Crazed Girl’; for account of John Butler Yeats in the Playboy controversy, see Autobiographies: ‘No man of all literary Dublin dared show his face but my own father ...’ (p.483), and also John Butler Yeats’s recollection of events [see John Butler Yeats, RX]; the drunken dinner at which O’Grady spoke is recorded in George Moore, Ave (1947, 102ff.), and in ‘Dramatis Personae’ (Autobiographies, p.423-44), where the older man speaks of literary and political movements that will not be important, and a military one that will, urging the landlords to train boy scouts to ‘march to the conquest of that decadent nation’ (England) [see further under O’Grady, RX.]; Lady Gregory recorded the incident mentioned in her Journal (11 April 1922); of Maud Gonne, the phrase ‘she walks like a goddess’ is called ‘the Virgilian commendation’ in Autobiographies (p.123).

‘A CRAZED GIRL’, written at Barcelona of Margaret Ruddock.

‘TO DOROTHY WELLESLEY’, written Aug. 1936, printed as ‘To a Friend’ in London Mercury (March 1938) and The Nation (2 March 1938); ‘horizon’ refers to DW’s saving her neighbourhood in Sussex from the encroachment of ‘scarlet bungalows’ (Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.53); the Great Dane is her dog Brutus; the poem is explained in a letter to Dorothy Wellesley: ‘for weeks I write poetry with sex for theme. Then comes the reversal - it came when I was young with some vision between waking and sleep with a flame in it. 5then for weeks I get a symbolism like that of my Byzantium poem or “To D. W., with flame for theme’; in the ensuing lines, he diagrams his elemental symbols, acc. to which fire is ‘passions, tension, day, music, energy’, noting also that the symbols for fire and water are combined to make Solomon’s seal (Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.86-87).

‘THE CURSE OF CROMWELL’, written Nov. 1936-8 Jan. 1937; printed in A Broadside, No. 8, n.s. (Aug. 1937); ‘at the moment I am expressing my rage against the intelligentsia by writing about Oliver Cromwell who was the Lennin [sic for Lenin] of his day - I speak through the mouth of some wandering peasant poet in Ireland (Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.119; var. 136 Warner); also. ‘the Great Demagogue [who] had come and turned the old house of the noble into “the house of the Poor, the lonely house, the accursed house [375] of Cromwell”.’ (Essays and Introductions, pp.375-76); ‘His fathers served ...’, see King of the Great Clock Tower, 1934, Preface, Sect. II: ‘My fathers served their fathers before Christ was crucified’ sang one of the most famous [viz, Aoghan O’Rahilly, in ‘Giolla na Gille’].

‘ROGER CASEMENT’, written Nov. 1936, in response to Dr. Maloney’s The Forged Casement Diaries (1936); Yeats’s impassioned support of Maloney’s view is relayed in letters to Ethel Mannin (15 Nov. 1936; Letters, ed. Wade, p.867-68) and Dorothy Wellesley (28 Nov. 1936; Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.107); see also under Casement [RX file].

‘THE GHOST OF ROGER CASEMENT’, MS dates Oct. 1936; to be sung to tune of ‘The Church’s One Foundation’; ‘I am fighting in those ballads for what I have been fighting for all my life, it is our Irish fight though it has nothing to do with thins or that country. Bernard Shaw fights with the same object. When somebody talks of justice, who know that justice is accompanied by secret forgery, when an archbishop wants a man to go the communion table, when that man says he is not spiritually fit, when we remember our age old quarrel against gold-brayed and ermine & that our ancestor Swift has gone where “fierce indignation can lacerate his heart no more” & we go stark, staring mad.’ ... I want to stiffen the back bone of the high hearted and high-minded & the sweet hearted & sweet-minded, so that they may no longer shrink & hedge, when they face the rag merchants like -. [...] Indeed, before all I want to strengthen myself. It is not our business to reply to this or that, but to set up our love & indignation against their pity & hate ...’ (Letter to Dorothy Wellesley, 23 Dec. 1936; Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.115); ‘I poked about the village church’ echoes Gray’s ‘Elegy in a Country Churchyard’ which Yeats was then reading, with its lines on ‘mute inglorious Milton’ and ‘some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood’ (Jeffares, Comm., p.388). THE O’RAHILLY, written Jan. 1937.

‘COME GATHER ROUND ME, PARNELLITES’, written 8 Sept. 1936, printed in A Broadside, No. 1 n.s. (Jan. 1937); arises from visit by Henry Harrison, an ‘old decrepit man’ and author of a Parnell Vindicated (1931), who begged Yeats to do something to some that Parnell ‘had nothing to be ashamed of in Kitty O’Shea’s love’ (Letter to Dorothy Wellesley, DWL, p.93; Letters, ed. Wade, pp.862-63).

‘THE WILD OLD WICKED MAN’, written in 1937, printed in Atlantic Monthly and London Mercury (April 1938); t reflects his intention of travelling to India with Lady Elizabeth Pelham (‘of whom I have seen a good deal’), after the Steinach operation: ‘though it revived my creative power it revived also sexual desire: and .. in all likelihood will last me until I die. I believe that if I repress this for any long period I would break down under the strain as did the great Ruskin. ... I have recovered a power of moving the common man I had in my youth.’ (DWL, p.123).

‘THE GREAT DAY’, written Jan. 1937, printed in London Mercury (March 1938).

‘PARNELL’, written Jan. 1937, printed London Mercury (March 1938), asserted by Yeats to contain ‘an actual saying of Parnell’s’ (Letters to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.123; Albright, ed., W. B. Yeats: The Poems, Everyman 1992, p.792).

‘WHAT WAS LOST’, written Jan. 1937, printed in London Mercury (March 1938); Jeffares cites Yeats’s Introduction to The Resurrection: ‘[...] I prefer that the defeated cause should be more vividly described than that which has the advertisement of victory. No battle has been finally won or lost; “to Garret or Cellar a wheel I send”.’ (Explorations, p.398).

‘A DRUNKEN MAN’S PRAISE OF SOBRIETY’, date of composition uncertain.

‘THE PILGRIM’, uncertain date; first printed in A Broadside, No. 10, n.s. (Oct. 1937); prob. sourced in St. John Seymour’s St Patrick’s Purgatory: A Medieval Pilgrimage in Ireland (1919), in which an account is given of the bird described by Manini in 1411 (Seymour, pp.55-57.) Bibl., Jeffares, ‘A great black ragged bird’, in Hermethena, CXVIII (Winter 1974), pp.69-81 [for other sources]. Vide, ‘If I were four-and-twenty ... I think I would go - though certainly I am no Catholic and never shall be - upon both of our great pilgrimages, to Croagh Patrick and to Lough Derg. ... Europe has nothing older than our pilgrimages.’ (‘If I were Four-and-Twenty’; Explorations, pp.266-67).

‘COLONEL MARTIN’, based on legendary generosity of Richard Martin (d.1836) who distributed among the Galway poor the award of £2,000 gained in a civil suit against one John Soho with whom his [second[ wife committed adultery; Yeats gave an account of his spirit and the story in a lecture of 1910 reported in the Dublin Evening Telegraph and copied by Richard Ellmann in the Identity of Yeats (1954), pp.205-06 [given fully in Jeffares, New Commentarypp.393-94]; the same narrative given in a version closer to the poem in Lady Gregory’s Kiltartan History Book (1926).

‘A MODEL FOR THE LAUREATE’, written late July 1937; ‘It is the kind of thing I would have written had I been made Laureate, which is perhaps why I was not made Laureate’ (Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.141); ‘from China to Peru’, cf. Johnson, ‘Let Observation with extensive view/Survey mankind from China to Peru’ (Vanity of Human Wishes).

‘THE OLD STONE CROSS’, written April-June 1937, while staying with Heald sisters in Sussex; printed in The Nation (12 March 1938) and London Mercury (March 1938).

‘THE SPIRIT MEDIUM’, written at Dorothy Wellesley’s house in Sussex, Spring 1938.

‘THOSE IMAGES’, written on or before 10 Aug. 1938; printed in London Mercury (March 1938); inspired by reaction against political talk of C. E. M. Joad, whom Yeats met at Penns in the Rocks, April. 1937; with a draft of the poem, Yeats sent to Dorothy Wellesley an short account of a speech he made at the banquet in his honour in Dublin (17th April): ‘Our movement is essential to the nation - only by songs, plays, stories, can we hold thirty millions together, keep them one people from New Zealand to California. I have always worked with this purpose’ - to which he added, ‘yet my dear, I am as anarchic as a sparrow’, quoting the Prince Regent, Blake, and Hugo on the worthlessness of political affairs compared with a lover or a blade of grass’ ‘lion and the virgin ...’, cf. ‘an Indian tale’ briefly retold at end of An Introduction for my Plays: ‘“Who are the Masters?” And he [‘the greatest of sages’] replied, “The wind and the harlot, the virgin and the child, the lion and the eagle’ (Essays & Introductions, p.530).

‘THE MUNICIPAL GALLERY REVISITED’, Aug.-Sept. 1937; printed in A Speech and Two Poems (1937); Yeats spoke of the formative moment at the gallery when this poem was born during his speech at the banquet in Dublin in his honour (17th April 1937): ‘For a long time I had not visited the Municipal Gallery. I went there a week ago and was restored to many friends. I sat down, after a few minutes, overwhelmed by emotion. There were pictures painted by men, now dead, who were once my intimate friends. There were the portraits of my fellow-workers; there was that portrait of Lady Gregory, by Mancini, which John Synge thought the greatest portrait since Rembrandt; there was John Synge himself; there, too, were portraits of our statesmen; the events of the last thirty years in fine pictures: a peasant ambush, the trial of Roger Casement, a pilgrimage to Lough Derg, event after event: Ireland hot as she is displayed in guide book or history, but, Ireland seen because of the magnificent vitality of her painters, in the glory of her passions. / For the moment I could think of nothing but that Ireland: that great pictured song. ... It is said that an Indian ascetic, when he has taken a certain initiation on a mountain in Tibet, is, visited by the Gods. In those rooms of the Municipal Gallery I saw Ireland in spiritual freedom, and the Corots, the Rodins, the Rousseaus were the visiting Gods.’ (also Variorum Poems, pp.830-40.) The ref. to ‘pilgrims’ equates to ‘St. Patrick’s Purgatory’, by Lavery; see also his pictures of Casement, Griffith and O’Higgins, and ‘Blessing of the Colours’ [i.e., Tricolour]; Antonio Mancini (1852-1930); ‘living’ and ‘dying’ refer to two paintings of Hazel Lavery (d.1935); ‘that woman’ and ‘last inheritor’ is Lady Gregory; ‘No fox can foul’, after Spenser’s reference to the ‘Death of the Earl of Leicester’ (otherwise ‘The Ruins of Time’), in which he laments that ‘He is now gone, the whiles the Fox is crept/Into the hole, the which the badger swept’ (l.72); Anteaus son of Poseidon and Earth, attacked by Hercules, took strength whenever he touched earth, and was therefore the opp. of Oisin; cf., ‘my own form might appear in a room full of mirrors’ (A Vision, p.214; Albright, ed., W. B. Yeats: The Poems, Everyman 1992, p.801); Note also J. M. Synge’s review of ‘Good Pictures in Dublin’ (Manchester Guardian, 24 Jan. 1908), in which he speaks of the Lane pictures on show in Clonmell House as ‘a living atmosphere [which might] become, like the Louvre and the Luxembourg, a sort of home for one’s mind’ (CW, II, Prose, p.391.); note the Seamus Heaney refers to this poem and the lines’ ‘an Ireland /The poets have inmagined, terrrible and gay’, and ‘Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,/And say my glory was I had such friends.’, commenting: ‘expansive and thrilling as these lines are, they are an instance of poetry flourishing itself rather than proving itself, they are the poet’s lap of honour.’ (Nobel Award Speech.)

‘ARE YOU CONTENT?’, printed in Atlantic Monthly and London Mercury (April 1938); Rev. John Butler; Druim Chliath is ridge of the hazels; ‘What Robert Browning Meant’, see verses in Pauline (1833), ‘... an old hunter/Talking with gods, or a high-crested chief/Sailing with troops of friends to Tenedos’.

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On the Boiler (1939), posthumous; controversial collection of essays based on Yeats’s reading of Swift’s opinions on ‘the One, the Few, and the Many’ (i.e., the decadence of democracy), deriving its title from a rusted boiler on which a sailor ‘denounce his neighbours’ in Yeats’s childhood; the book includes three poems later issued in Last Poems and Plays (1940), being: ‘WHY SHOULD NOT OLD MEN BE MAD’, ‘CRAZY JANE ON THE MOUNTAIN’, and ‘A STATESMAN’S HOLIDAY’.

‘WHY SHOULD NOT OLD MEN BE MAD’, written Jan. 1936, printed untitled at the beginning of On the Boiler (1939).

‘CRAZY JANE ON THE MOUNTAIN’, which he called (in a letter to Dorothy Wellesley) ‘a wild affair’ (Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.181); Yeats alleged that an ancient Irish text gives out that ‘A woman of divine origin was murdered by jealous rivals because she made the deepst hole in the snow with her urine’ (Explorations, p.433); Dorothy Wellesley argued the usage ‘great-bladdered’ with him, suggesting ‘great-bellied’ instead, and recorded his assertion in response that Queen Emer was said to be ‘able to make a larger hole in the snow than the other women, so that they were jealous, and set upon her and killed her’ as recalled by Wellesley (Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.171; Jeffares, New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984, 1984, p.515 and Albright, ed., W. B. Yeats: The Poems, Everyman 1992, pp.805-06; note that scholarship has not found any such source.

‘A STATESMAN’S HOLIDAY’, completed April 1938; the Lord Chancellor is prob. F. E. Smith, later Lord Birkenhead, who had prosecuted Casement and guaranteed the authenticity of the Black Diaries; the Commanding Officer is prob. Sir Hubert Gough, who lead the Curragh Mutiny in refusing to take up a defensive position against the UVF in Belfast; ‘the man who made the motors’ is prob. William Morris, later Lord Nuffield.

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Last Poems [1938-1939], the title being the publisher’s, but a list of the poems in the order of their appearance in the collection was provided by Yeats himself (Jeffares, New Commentary, p.359; Albright, ed., W. B. Yeats: The Poems, Everyman 1992, p.807); a list of the poems in order of production has been made by Curtis Bradford (‘Yeats’s Last Poems Again’, VIII, Dolmen Press Yeats Centenary Papers, 1965), as follows: ‘Under Ben Bulben’; ‘Three Songs to One Burden’; ‘The Black Tower’; ‘Cuchulain Comforted’; ‘Three Marching Songs’; ‘In Tara’s Halls’; ‘The Statues’; ‘News for the Delphic Oracle’; ‘The Long-Legged Fly’; ‘A Bronze Head’; ‘A Stick of Incense’; ‘Hound Voice’; ‘John Kinsella’s Lament’; ‘High Talk’; ‘The Apparitions’; ‘A Nativity; Man and Echo’; ‘The Circus Animal’s Desertion’; ‘Politics’; ‘Cuchulain’s Death’; ‘Purgatory’.

‘UNDER BEN BULBEN’, ‘Mareotic Lake’ connotes early Christian monasticism of 4th century; ‘witch of Atlas’, her name is bestowed on a poem of Shelley’s in which she symbolises the beauty of wisdom; her association with the ‘Mareotid lakes’, as well as her power to seem ‘the reality of things’ are discussed in Essays and Introductions (p.185); ‘horsemen’ refers to the vision seen by Mary Battle, servant to George Pollexfen, concerning the return of the gods at Ben Bulben, associated with the Fianna; ‘two eternities’, cf. ‘There is now overwhelming evidence that man stands between two eternities, that of his family and that of his soul’ (Letter to Dorothy Wellesley, 22 June 1928; Letters, ed., Wade, p.910); Mitchel’s ‘war in our time’, a parodied of the Book of Common Prayer (Daily Service), is to be found in Jail Journal (1854); ‘partial mind’, an idea ascribed to Rilke; ‘fill the cradles’, Yeatsian eugenics, cf. “Phases of the Moon”; on ‘Measurement’ cf. “The Statues”; the ‘stark Egyptian’ is Plotinus; ‘gentler Phidias’, c.490-432, sculptor of Parthenon marbles; Denis Calvert, 1540-1619, Flemish painter, confused by Yeats with Edward Calvert (1799-1883), English visionary; bibl., ‘Raymond Lister, ‘Beulah to Byzantium’, Dolmen Centenary Papers, II, p.36; Richard Wilson (1814-1782), English landscape painter; Palmer’s phrase’ refers to the illustrator of Milton, whom Yeats regarded as a successor to Blake (see Essays and Introductions, p.125); ‘beaten into clay’ echoes a line in Frank O’Connor’s “Kilcash”: ‘the earls, the lady, the people beaten into clay’; Yeats wrote out his epitaph in a letter to Ethel Mannin, 22 Aug. 1938; Letters, ed. Wade, 914), indicating that it was inscribed by him on the margin of his copy of a book of essays about Rilke, but there is in no [sign of such] marginalia in his library (Hone, W. B. Yeats, p.473n.)

‘THREE SONGS TO ONE BURDEN’, printed in the Spectator (16 May 1939), ‘mountain to mountain’ remembers horsemen seen by Mary Battle; ‘likely couples’, cf. ‘the best born of the best’ (Purgatory); Henry Middleton, cousin of W. B. Yeats, became recluse; ‘small forgotten house’ is Elsinore at the Rosses; Yeats and Mrs. Yeats climbed the wall to circumvent the locked gate and found Middleton sitting in a littered room, claiming to be too busy to see anyone; ‘Green Land’, desolate area of sandhills at Rosses Point; the third song was formerly called ‘An abbey Player - I meditate upon 1916’; ‘the player Connolly’, an actor shot in 1916, not Labour leader James Connolly; on Patrick Pearse’s cult of blood sacrifice, see Pearse, RX files [and Yeats’s reflections on Pearse in poetry and prose].

‘THE BLACK TOWER’, Yeats’s last poem; ‘the dead upright’, referring to the dead at Knocknarea, where Eoghan Bel, Connacht king killed at Battle of Sligo (c.545) is said to be buried facing his enemies (bibl. P. W. Joyce, A Social History of Ancient Ireland, 1903, I, p.551); the poem includes Arthurian references also.

‘CUCHULAIN COMFORTED’, written 13 Jan. 1939, first printed in Collected Poems; a prose draft copied to Dorothy Wellesley (Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.193); ‘shrouds’ is taken as referring to Plato’s myth of Er in the Republic, III.

‘THREE MARCHING SONGS’, later versions of ‘Three Songs to the Same Tune’ (Nov. 1933-Feb. 1934; printed in Spectator, 23 Feb. 1934, and in Poetry, Chicago, Dec. 1934); [with pref. note in Spectator and a ‘Commentary on Three Songs’ in Poetry, later printed in The King of the Great Clock Tower], finally revised as ‘Three Marching Songs’, Dec. 1938, and printed in Last Poems and Two Plays (1939); note that the ‘Commentary’ of 1934 includes a note: ‘Because a friend [Capt. Dermot MacManus] belonging to a political party wherein I had once some loose associations, told me that it had, or was about to have, or might be persuaded to have, some such aim as mine, I wrote these songs. Finding that it neither would nor could, I increased their fantasy, their extravagance, their obscurity, that no party might sing them’ (Aug. 1934; Jeffares, New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984, p.500; also quoted in Lucy McDiarmid, Saving Civilisation: Yeats, Eliot, and Auden Between the Wars, Cambridge UP 1984, p.76); ‘airy spot’ echoes Allingham.

‘IN TARA’S HALLS’, written June 1938, printed in Last Poems and Two Plays (1939).

‘THE STATUES’, written 9 April 1938 (or April-June 1938, acc. Curtis Bradford); printed in London Mercury (March 1939) and The Nation (15 April 1939). A prose draft transcribed by Jeffares (New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984, p.412, incl. two indecipherable words): ‘Men were victors at Salamis, and Victory is nothing, now one up, then another, only their cold marble forms could drive back to the vague Asiatic norm [...&] ... conquer their sublime emptiness, and in a jungle nigh they saw ... [indecipherable]’; also, ‘There are moments when I am certain that art must once again accept Greek proportions which carry into plastic art the Pythagorean numbers, whose faces which are divine because all their [there?] is empty and measured. Europe was not born when Greek galleys defeated the Persian hordes at Salamis; but when the Doric studios sent out those broad-back marble statues against the multiform, vague, expressive Asiatic sea, they gave to the sexual instinct of Europe its goal, its fixed type. (On the Boiler; rep. in Explorations, p.451; Jeffares, New Commentary, 1984, p.412; also Denis Donoghue, We Irish, 1986, p.3.) Cf., A Vision: ‘Side by side with Ionic elegance there come after the Persian wars a Doric vigour, and the light-limbed dandy of the potters, the Parisian-looking young woman of the sculptors, her hair elaborately curled, gives place to the athlete. One suspects a deliberate turning away from all that is Eastern, or a moral propaganda like that which turned the poets out of Plato’s Republic, and yet it may be that the preparation for the final systemisation had for its apparent cause the destruction, let us say, of Ionic studios by the Persian invaders, and that all came from the resistance of the Body of Fate to the growing solitude of the soul. [...] / Each age unwinds the thread another age had wound, and it amuses one to remember that before Phidias, and his westward-moving art, Persia fell, and that when full moon came round again, amid eastward-moving thought, and brought Byzantine glory, Rome fell; and that at the outset of our westward-moving Renaissance Byzantium fell; all things dying each other’s life, living each other’s death. [...] / I identify the conquest of Alexander and the break-up of his kingdom when Greek civilisation, formalised and codified, loses itself in Asia, with the beginning of the 22nd Phase ... (A Vision, B, 268-72; Jeffares, New Commentary, 1984, pp.413-15.) Note that Jeffares glosses the lines on Pearse thus: ‘Yeats sees Pearse ... as summoning intellectual and aesthetic forces into being, as well as those skills of measuring and numbering, so that the Irish can return to the Pythagorean philosophy’. See also Letter to Ethel Mannin (23 Dec. 1938): ‘I am a mystic - no I am a practical man - I have seen the raising of Lazarus & the loaves & fishes & have made the usual measurements plummet, line, and spirit level & have taken the temperature, but by pure mathematic’. (printed as unpubl. in Richard Ellmann, Yeats: The Man and the Masks, 1948, p.292.) Vide also Wheels and Butterflies (1934): ‘Yet it may be that our science, our modern philosophy, keep a subconscious knowledge of their raft, roped together at the end of the seventeenth century, must, if they so much as glance at that slow moving flower part and abandon on us to the storm or it may be ... that all it can do is, after a shady scrutiny, to prove the poverty of the human intellect, that we are lost amid alien intellects, near but incomprehensible, more incomprehensible than the most distant stars. We may, whether it scrutinise or not, lacking its convenient happy explanations, plunge as Rome did in the fourth century, according to some philosopher of that day into “a fabulous formless darkness”.’ (pp.77-78).

‘NEWS FOR THE DELPHIC ORACLE’, date of composition uncertain (prob. during 1938); pub. in London Mercury (March 1939) and The New Republic (22 March 1939); a poem related to Porphyry’s account of the Delphic oracle on Plotinus [see ‘Among School-Children’]; ‘dolphins’ are conveyors of the soul after death; ‘those Innocents’ are perhaps the Holy Innocents; ‘The Marriage of Peleus and Thetis’ by Poussin is in National Gallery of Ireland. Jeffares notes that Niamh is called ‘a man-picker’ because she told Finn: ‘now I choose ... / That I might have your son to kiss.’ (“Wanderings of Oisin”, in Poems: A New Edition, ed. Richard Finneran, 1984, p.375). Finneran also gives the source material for ‘New for the Delphic Oracle’ (Poems: A New Edition, 1984, p.292.)

‘THE LONG-LEGGED FLY’, written Nov. 1937-April 1938; completed prob. 11 April 1938, printed in London Mercury (March 1939); ‘topless towers’ directly echoes Marlowe’s rhetorical question about ‘the face that launched a thousand ships/And burned the topless towers of Ilium’ (i.e., Helen’s) in Dr. Faustus (V, I, .l.94-5).

‘A BRONZE HEAD’, written prob. 1937-38, printed in London Mercury (March 1939); concerns the heard of Maud Gonne by Lawrence Campbell, RHA, in the Municipal Gallery; J. McT. E. McTaggart (1866-1925), author of Studies in Hegelian Cosmology (1901); ‘all ancient nations believed in the re-birth of the soul and had probably empirical evidence like that Lafcadio Hearn found among the Japanese. In our time Schopenhauer believed it, and McTaggart things Hegel did, though lack of interest in the individual soul had kept him silent. It is the foundation of McTaggart’s own philosophical system .. All our though seems to lead by antithesis to some new affirmation of the supernatural.’ (Introduction to Resurrection, in Explorations, p.396-97).

‘A STICK OF INCENSE’, written prob. 1938, printed in Last Poems and Two Plays (1939); ‘Yet we much hold to what we have that the next civilisation may be born, not from a virgin’s womb, not a tomb without a body, not from a void, but of our own rich experience.’ (‘Private Thoughts’, in Explorations, p.436-37 [see more in “Quotations”, supra).

‘HOUND VOICE’, prob. written Summer 1938; pub. London Mercury (Dec. 1938) and The Nation (10 Dec. 1938); written ‘in a spirit of mockery’ (Jeffares, New Commentary, p.421).

‘JOHN KINSELLA’S LAMENT FOR MRS MOORE’, written 21 or 29 July 1938, printed in London Mercury (Dec. 1938), orig. entitled ‘A Strong Farmer’s complaint about Death’, concerning invented characters; ‘I have just thought of a chorus for a ballad. ... I think it might do for a new Broadside.’ (Letter to Edith Shackleton Heald, 21 July 1938; Letters, ed. Wade, p.912).

‘HIGH TALK, written 29 July and Aug. 1938, printed in London Mercury (Dec. 1938), and Nation (10 Dec. 1938); cf. ‘we all got down off our stilts.’ (in Pref. to Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1936.) Jeffares considers that Malachi-Stilt-Jack to be an invented name rather than a reference to S. Malachi. [See further under Notes - supra.]

‘THE APPARITIONS’, written March-April 1938, printed in London Mercury (Dec. 1938); the title refers to a series of death-dreams experienced by Yeats at Majorca in Jan. 1938, when he received the message that he had five years to live (see T. R. Henn, The Lonely Tower, 1950, rev. edn. 1965, p.149): ‘Five years would be about long enough to finish my autobiography and bring out A Vision.’ (Letter to Mrs. Shakespear, 11 Nov. 1933). Jeffares refers to Sheila O’Sullivan’s view that Yeats’s seventh apparition - here recited from a letter to Mrs. Shakespear premonitory of five years life remaining - compares with Lady Gregory’s account of the story told her of the death of Raftery (Poets and Dreamers, 1903, pp.26-27) - and further quotes a sentence from Yeats’s manuscript given in Curtis Bradford, Yeats’s Last Poems Again’, Dolmen Press Yeats Centenary Papers (1965): ‘The first apparition was the passage of a coat upon a coathanger slowly across the room - it was extraordinarily terrifying.’ (n.p.; Jeffares; New Commentary, 1984, p.422.)

‘A NATIVITY’, prob. written Aug. 1936, printed in London Mercury (Dec. 1938). Yeats’s notes on Winding of the Stair incl. the sentence: ‘[...] the words “a fallen falre through the hollow of the ear” are, I am told, obscure. I had in my memory Byzantine mosaic pictures of the Annunciation, which show a line drawn from a star to the ear of the Virgin. She conceived of the Word, and therefore through the ear a star fell and was born.’ (Richard J. Finneran, ed., Poems: A New Edition, 1984, p.261.) Jeffares’ notes on this poem include views expressed by Mrs. Yeats, viz., that Yeats included the name of Delacroix for its rotundity (see Henn, The Lonely Tower, 1959, rev. edn. 1965, p.261), and that he took great care to choose non-stinging insects for the poem. (Jeffares, New Commentary, 1984, p.422.)

‘MAN AND ECHO’, written July 1938, revised Oct. 1938, printed in Atlantic Monthly and London Mercury (Jan. 1939). ‘Alt’ is prob. a glen or fissure in Knocknarea, and therefore an Irish equivalent of Delphi; ‘that play of mine’ is Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902) and certain men - ‘probably’, in Jeffares circumspect account, the leaders of the 1916 Rising, but also possibly ‘the total effect of the rebellion and “troubles”’; ‘that woman’s reeling brain’ is Margaret Ruddock’s; ‘a house lay wrecked’ refers to Coole Park (destroyed in 1941); ‘bodkin’ connotes suicide (cf. Hamlet, III, i.).

‘THE CIRCUS ANIMAL’S DESERTION’, written Nov. 1937-Sept. 1938; includes references to Wanderings of Oisin (‘infinite feeling, infinite battle, infinite repose - hence the three islands’ (Letters to Katharine Tynan, p.84; Letters, ed. Wade, p.111); allegorical dreams, cf. Yeats’s comments on symbolism in Wanderings of Oisin. The idea of the circus may have come from Jack B. Yeats’s drawings and paintings, e.g., those made for the Cuala Press. (Jeffares, New Commentary, 1984, p.424; T. R. Henn, The Lonely Tower, 1950, rev. edn. 1950, p.271.)

‘POLITICS’, written 23 May 1938; printed in Atlantic Monthly and London Mercury (Jan. 1939); inspired by Archibald MacLeish’s article, ‘Public Speech and Private Speech in Poetry’, Yale Review (Spring 1938), which Yeats called, in a letter to Dorothy Wellesley of 24 May 1938 ‘the only article on the subject which has not bored me for years. It commends me above all other modern poets because my language is “public”. The word which I had not thought of myself is a word I want. ... the enclosed little poem is my reply. It is not a real incident, but a moment of meditation [... &c.]’ (Letters ... to Dorothy Wellesley, 1940, reiss. 1964, p.163); Thomas Mann’s phrase is taken from MacLeish’s article.

Additional Poems

‘LOVE AND DEATH’, published in Dublin University Review (May 1885).

‘THE SEEKER’, published in Dublin University Review (Sept. 1885), and included in Wanderings of Oisin (1889).

‘THE TWO TITANS’, published in Dublin University Review (March 1886).

‘ON MR NETTLESHIP’S PICTURE AT THE ROYAL HIBERNIAN ACADEMY’, published in Dublin University Review (April 1886), and included in Wanderings of Oisin (1889).

‘MOSADA’ [verse play], published in Dublin University Review (June 1886), and separately as pamphlet under the title Mosada: A Dramatic Poem (Dublin: Sealy, Bryer & Walker 1886), by subscription on his father’s account, 100 copies being printed of which a dozen are extant; another edn. based on the 1889 text being published by Cuala Press (1943), with author’s corrections from his own copy.

‘REMEMBRANCE’, published in Irish Monthly (July 1886).

‘A DAWN-SONG’, published in The Irish Fireside (5 Feb. 1887).

‘THE FAIRY PEDANT’, verse-play published in Irish Monthly (March 1887) and included in Wanderings of Oisin (1889), as well as in ‘A Celtic Christmas’ being the Christmas number of The Irish Homestead (Dec. 1901), as ‘A Solitary Fairy’.

‘HOW FERNCZ RENYI KEPT SILENT’, published in The Pilot (Boston) (6 Aug. 1887), having been sent to the ed. John Boyle O’Reilly by John O’Leary, and later included in Wanderings of Oisin (1889), and A Celtic Christmas (Dec. 1900); Jeffares’s annotations in New Commentary (1984; pp.455-56) quotes extensively from an account of the fate of the title-character, whose mother, sister, and fiancée were shot and who himself went mad, given in the Pall Mall Budget (1886), being an abridgement of Paul Frollo’s ‘Histoire d’un fou’ in Le Petit Parisien (29 Aug. 1886); researches into the story by one Boleslaw Londynski, a Polish poet (‘The Legend of Ferenc Rényi, a Hungarian Hero of Freedom, in English, Finnish, Irish and Polish Literature’, in Acta Litterara Acad. Scientiarum. Hungaricae., 21, 1-2 (q.d.) pp.143-60, establishes that there was no original in Hungarian history; other works from the same specious source incl. Kaarle Leopold Krohn’s poem (Helsinki 1888), and a play by Michael Field (A Question of Memory, Independent Th. London, 27 Oct. 1893); in Yeats’s poem, ‘the Hungary of the West’ equates with Ireland (Jeffares, op. cit., p.456).

‘THE FAIRY DOCTOR’, published in The Irish Fireside (10 Sept. 1887), and included in Wanderings of Oisin (1889).

‘LOVE SONG’, published in Poems and Ballads of Young Ireland (1888), based on translation from ‘Eamon an Cnuic’ in Edward Walsh’s introduction to Irish Popular Songs (1883), p.18.

‘THE PHANTOM SHIP’, published in The Providence Sunday Journal (27 May 1888), and in Wanderings of Oisin (1889).

‘A LEGEND’, printed in The Vegetarian (22 Dec. 1888), ill. Jack B. Yeats, and included in Wanderings of Oisin (1889).

‘TIME AND THE WITCH VIVIEN’, printed in Wanderings of Oisin (1889), and presum. based on Tennyson’s ‘Merlin and Vivien’ in Idylls of the Kings (1859).

‘FULL MOODY IS MY LOVE AND SAD’, incl. in Wanderings of Oisin (1889) as ‘Girl’s Song’, then in the story ‘Dhoya’ in John Sherman and Dhoya (1891), and afterwards in Collected Works (Vol. 11).

‘KANVA ON HIMSELF’ [Variorum Edition, p.723].

‘A LOVER’S QUARREL AMONG THE FAIRIES’, incl. in Wanderings of Oisin.

‘THE PRIEST AND THE FAIRY’, incl. in Wanderings of Oisin; STREET DANCERS’, in Wanderings of Oisin and The Leisure Hour, April 1890.

‘QUATRAINS AND APHORISMS’, in Wanderings of Oisin, and [in two parts] in Dublin Univ. Review (Jan. 1886 & Feb. 1886), as ‘In a Drawing Room’ & ‘Life’.

‘IN CHURCH’, in The Girls’ Own Paper ( 8 June 1889), p.567; A SUMMER EVENING’, in The Girls’ Own Paper (6 July 1998), p.632.

‘IN THE FIRELIGHT’, in The Leisure Hour (March 1891).

‘MOURN - AND THEN ONWARDS’, in United Irishman (10 Oct. 1891), and Irish Weekly Independent (20 May 1893).

‘WHEN YOU ARE SAD’, in The Countess Kathleen (1892), and rep. in Poems (1895), &c..

‘WHERE MY BOOKS GO’, in Irish Fairy Tales [Children’s Library] (1892).

‘THE BALLAD OF EARL PAUL’, in Irish Weekly Independent (8 April 1893), and rep. [in part] in Dublin Magazine (April-June 1927).

‘THE DANAAN QUICKEN TREE’, in The Bookman (May 1893).

‘WISDOM AND DREAMS’, in The Bookman (Dec. 1893).

‘THE WIND BLOWS OUT OF THE GATES OF THE DAY’, song in The Land of Heart’s Desire (1894) [play].

[‘THE POET, OWEN HANRAHAN, UNDER A BUSH OF MAY’], from ‘The Curse of Hanrahan the Red’ [story], formerly ‘O’Sullivan the Red’.

[‘OUT OF SIGHT IS OUT OF MIND’], in ‘Wisdom’ [story], The new review (Sept. 1895), later in Coll. Works, The Secret Rose,, and Stories of Red Hanrahan ... &c. (1927).

[‘LIFT UP THE WHITE KNEE’], song from The Countess Cathleen (1895).

[‘IMPETUOUS HEART BE STILL, BE STILL’], song from the Countess Cathleen (1895).

‘A SONG OF THE ROSY-CROSS’, in The Bookman (Oct. 1895).

[‘SEVEN PATERS SEVEN TIMES’], from The Tables of the Law and The Adoration of the Magi (1897).

‘THE GLOVE AND THE CLOAK’, in Roma (Rome 1897).

‘THE BLOOD BOND’, from Diarmuid and Grania, the song being printed in A Broad Sheet (Jan. 1902), and the play first published in Dublin Magazine (April-June 1951).

‘SPINNING SONG’, from Diarmuid and Grania (1902), the song being pub. in A Broad Sheet (Jan. 1902), and rep. as There are Seven that Pull the Thread, with mus. by Elgar (1902), while the play was first publ. in Dublin Magazine (April-June 1951) without the song.

[‘I AM COME TO CRY WITH YOU, WOMAN’], from Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902).

[‘DO NOT MAKE A GREAT KEENING’], from Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902) - incls. a stanza omitted from Poems: New Edition (ed. Finneran, 1984; see under “Quotations”, infra).

[‘THEY SHALL BE REMEMBERED FOR EVER’, from Cathleen ni Houlihan]; [O BIDDY DONAHOE’], from Where There is Nothing (1902), and omitted from 1903 printings.

[‘THE SPOUSE OF NAOISE, ERIN’S WOE’], from The Pot of Broth, pub. in The Gael (1903), and The Hour Glass and Other Plays (1904) sundry edns. - taken from poem of William Dall O’Heffernan [“Beith Eirionn I!”].

‘THERE’S BROTH IN THE POT FOR YOU, OLD MAN’, from The Pot of Broth, pub. in The Gael, 1903, &c., and ‘taken down from an old woman known as Cracked Mary (the original of “Crazy Jane”), who wanders about the plain of Aidne, and who someetimes seems unearthly riders on white horses coming thorugh stony fields to her hovel door at night’ (WBY, [Pref.,] The Hour Glass, Cathleen ni Houlihan, The Pot of Broth, 1904).

[‘THERE’S NOBODY’LL CALL OUT FOR HIM’, from The King’s Threshold (1904).

[‘THE FOUR RIVERS THAT RUN THERE’, do.]

[‘“WHY IS IT”, QUEEN EDAIN SAID’], from Deirdre.

[‘MAY THIS FIRE HAVE DRIVEN OUT’], from On Baile’s Strand (1906), publ. as ‘Aginst Witchraft’ in The Shanachie (Spring 1906).

[‘CUCHULAIN HAS KILLED KINGS’], from On Baile’s Strand (1906). and in Poems 1899-1906 (1906, & Edns.).

‘LOVE IS AN IMMODERATE THING’], from Deirdre (1907 & edns.), and incl. in Poems: Second Series (1909).

[‘THEY ARE GONE, THEY ARE GONE, THE PROUD MAY LIE BY THE PROUD’, from Deirdre (1907 & edns.), also in Poems: Second Series (1909)].

[‘I PUT IT UNDER THE POWER OF MY PRAYER’], from The Unicorn from the Stars (1 908 & Edns.) - the play being a reworking of Where There is NOthing, completed in a fortnight ‘to prevent George Moore from stealing the plot’ (Letters, p.503).

‘O COME ALL YE AIRY BACHELORS’, from The Unicorn from the Stars (1908 & edn.s), with an antecednet in Journal of Folk-song Society, !, 4 (1902, pp.142-43 [noticed by Finneran, in Editing Yeats’s Poems (1983)]

[Continuing ...]


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