I have confined this thesis to Yeats's
Poetry, and have mentioned his dramas and prose
works only in passing. I have dealt with the earliest
dramatic sketches in verse(Island of Statues, Mosada
etc) in some detail, because they belong to the domain of Poetry, and not Drama. John B. Jests
exalted the dramatic form above everything else
and condemned personal utterance as egoism, and it
was to the dramatic form that young Yeats first
turned. It has been difficult to steer clear of the
Poetic Plays in a treatment of his Poetry, but the
thread of his development is sufficiently clear even
outside his plays. Drama he made into an elaborate
ritual, and he subtilised dramatic speech to a disciplined movement, which gives it an incantation
on the whole different from that of his Poetry.
I have treated the early poetry in more
detail because that was the period he was 'on the
boiling pot'. The difference between the lyrics of
the 'Wanderings of Oisin' (1889) and 'The Wind Among
the Reeds' (1899) is considerably greeter than that
between 'The Fascination of what's difficult' (1910)
end the 'Circus Animal's Desertion" (1939). Once
his speculations grew vivid, his poetry as well as
its expression crystallised into its modern form.
From 1919 ('The Wild Swans at Coole') to 1939 it
matured and grew in strength, but did not undergo
any revolutionary change.
I have endeavoured in criticising his
early work to take stock of the reactions they caused
on the audience of the day rather than judge them
objectively from modern standards. His later work
does not allow such elaborate diagnosis and is a little terrifyingly near for more careful scrutiny.
And I have been a little afraid of losing my bearings.