Yeats and the Anglo-Irish Twilight

  • F. S. L. Lyons


Of all the clichés that cluster round the name of W. B. Yeats his identification with the Celtic twilight is perhaps the most familiar and the most persistent. In later years he became impatient with the label and strove to shake it off, but that it stuck to him so closely was largely his own doing: After all, had he not invested largely in a supernatural world over which eventually he seemed to assume almost proprietary rights? And did he not as early as 1893 gather his knowledge of fairy-tales and folklore into a book which he actually called The Celtic Twilight? And had he not accustomed his readers to recognise that grey, ghostly twilight as the hour before dawn, when ‘this world and the other draw near’?[1] Since Yeats never lost his passionate belief in the supernatural, though it became more various and sophisticated as he grew older, it is understandable that the connection with the Celtic twilight should continue for many people to be the hallmark by which he is most easily recognisable.


Eighteenth Century Irish People Irish Time IRISH Culture Irish Nationality 
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  1. 1.
    Uncollected Prose by W. B. Yeats, ed. John P. Frayne (London, 1970) vol. i, p. 173.Google Scholar
  2. See also M. C. Flannery, Yeats and Magic (Gerrards Cross, Bucks, 1977) pp. 66–7.Google Scholar
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    Donal O’Sullivan, The Irish Free State and its Senate (London, 1940) pp. 90–1.Google Scholar
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    Uncollected Poems by W. B. Yeats, ed. John P. Frayne and Colter Jackson (London, 1975), vol. ii, p. 488 (hereafter cited as Uncollected Poems).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Oliver MacDonagh 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. S. L. Lyons

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