Verge or Limit: Responses to Simple Nature

  • Barbara Hardy
Part of the Yeats Annual book series (YA)


Yeatsian nature is highly composed. What Richard Ellmann called the bestiary is crammed with emblems, symbols, myths and metaphors. Hawk, raven, swan, dove, sea-mew, eagle, butterfly, honey-bee, horse, lion, dolphin, cat, hare, sea-horse and other creatures are tamed and trained to perform for the poet’s purposes. What is true of the fauna is true of the flora. Roses, reeds, grass and trees are no sooner invoked than they turn, wholly or partly, into ideas or emotional correlatives. The rest of non-human nature is malleable too. Moons, stars, winds, clouds, skies, scents, sunbeams, streams, rivers and waterfalls are intensely illustrative. This poet’s speech is symbol. But he liked keeping his symbols companionable, enjoying the process of transforming particulars into abstractions or dissolving ideas into individualities. He loved wildness, as a cause and effect of poetic or erotic rapture, and because it meant a state of fluidity, out of which fresh images and systems could emerge. His Syrian in The Resurrection (1931) asks, “What if there is always something that lies outside knowledge, outside order? What if at the moment when knowledge and order seem complete that something appears?” (VPl 925).


Natural Image Simple Nature Emotional Correlative Collect Poem Natural Imagery 
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Copyright information

© Wawick Gould 1990

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  • Barbara Hardy

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