Yeats, Public Man

  • A. Norman Jeffares


When Yeats wrote of his twenties as ‘crammed with toil’ he was referring to more than stitching and unstitching of lines, more than reading Gaelic legends or occult philosophy. For in his twenties he was struggling against shyness, battling for self-possession, and driven by a desire to be able to play with hostile minds as Hamlet played. In his late teens he had joined a club founded by Charles Oldham and had begun to practise oratory at its meetings, reliving them afterwards, going over and over his own words and getting the wrong ones right. Then he joined a Young Ireland Society presided over by John O’Leary and made more speeches there. What he learned of public speaking in these two societies in Dublin was reinforced in London by Madame Blavatsky’s advice when, after his stumbling attempt at a speech in the Theosophical Society, she made him throw away his notes and ‘say his say’.


Public Life Public Speaking Literary Movement Ideal Beauty Literary Society 
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© Felicity Anne Jeffares 1970

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  • A. Norman Jeffares

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