Yeats’s Mask

  • A. Norman Jeffares


In his study of Yeats Professor Hough has written that in the period of the prose essay Per Arnica Silentia Lunae, the three poems ‘Ego Dominus Tuus’, ‘The Phases of the Moon’, and ‘The Double Vision of Michael Robartes’, and A Vision, the poet’s mind

was much occupied at this time with what might be called the doctrine of the Mask. Many of his ideas seem to come to him initially as purely verbal suggestions, and we can perhaps discern its origin in the much earlier poem ‘Put off That Mask of Burning Gold’, a dialogue between lover and his mistress, in which she tries to discover whether it is his real self or his assumed mask that attracted her. Perhaps too we can see traces of it in Yeats’s concern with the use of masks and the exclusion of individual character in drama. However that may be, in Per Arnica he develops the theory that the poet in the act of creation is not seeking his self, but a mask which is his anti-self, the antithesis of all that he is in life.1


Diary Entry Cambridge Journal Manuscript Version Verbal Suggestion Collect Poem 
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© Felicity Anne Jeffares 1970

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  • A. Norman Jeffares

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