The Tree, the Tower, the Winding Stair: Towards a View of Poetry
From quite an early age Yeats, like Milton, saw poetry as his prime vocation in life and was more consistently successful than he in subordinating competing interests, such as politics and the preternatural, and making them ultimately serve the purposes of his art.1 The theatre, national policy on education, the promotion of Irish studies, or the problem of censorship in the arts may have occupied him at certain points in his career; but the concern with the poet and with poetry is ubiquitous and one finds it no less in the very first writings [The Poetry of Sir Samuel Ferguson’ (1886) and the letter to Mary Cronan (1887)] than in the last. As one of the most fully documented writers of the language, his remarks on poetry not only cover his entire literary career; they are scattered through a vast body of critical and autobiographical writing, correspondence, notes, prefaces and introductions, and the memoirs of numerous contemporaries. On no other subject, in fact, is the problem of ‘dispersal’ in Yeats that I referred to in the previous chapter more acute and exacting.
KeywordsFolk Tradition Spiritual State Great Poet Artistic Discipline Autobiographical Writing
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