‘He too was in Arcadia’: Yeats and the Paradox of the Fortunate Fall

  • Edward Engelberg


‘“I Want to see this Yeats thing …’ She was awake now, and urgent.’ The awake and urgent lady so eager to see ‘this Yeats thing’ is Carol Kennicott, heroine of Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street. Place: Gopher Prairie, Minnesota; time: shortly before the first Great War; and the name of the ‘Yeats thing’: The Land of Hearts Desire (1894). Carol persuades her husband and they go to see the play (followed by one of Dunsany’s !), but only momentarily is Carol able to enter into the make-believe which she desperately seeks as escape from a dull life. Briefly she is ‘transported’ to the world of thatched cottages and ‘green dimness’, ‘caressing linden branches’, ‘twilight women’ and ‘ancient gods’. How romantic! How different! How appropriate to hear her counterpart, Mary, also doomed to the drudgery of the kitchen, saying:

Come, faeries, take me out of this dull house ! Let me have all the freedom I have lost; Work when I will and idle when I will! Faeries, come take me out of this dull world …


Human Sacrifice Break Dream Primitive Life Tragic Situation Young Poet 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1965

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Engelberg

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