Blake and Oppositional Identity in Yeats, Auden and Dylan Thomas



It is not an exaggeration to say that Yeats was one of the first serious scholars of Blake. The three-volume annotated edition (1893) he prepared with Edwin J. Ellis (1848–1916) was far more detailed and comprehensive than predecessors offered by W. M. Rossetti and others. The annotations, although they might seem unbalanced to a contemporary scholar in the weight they accord to occult traditions, are still useful. And not only does the edition give full representation to the longer prophetic books, it also attempts to convey a much better idea of the role of the illuminations than would be available from any other source in the period. Of course, Yeats had the assistance of Ellis, who had been something of a mentor.1 But Yeats’s study of Theosophy, Cabbala and Swedenborg had already been undertaken independently of Ellis, and it now ‘came into its own’.2 So the impression Yeats gives in A Vision that he and Ellis were genuine collaborators is undoubtedly quite accurate.


Immanent Divinity Evil Persona Automatic Writing Contrary Principle Chimney Sweeper 
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© Edward Larrissy 2006

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