Yeats: The Tradition of Myself
ANY GENERALIZATION about the nature of modern poetry inevitably runs up against the intransigeant poetry of Yeats, and at that point often requires modification. This is true for several reasons, mainly perhaps because the poetry of Yeats is so many things and resists general statements about it as a whole, but also because in the process of "modernizing" himself Yeats carried into his mature poetry so much of the later nineteenth- century poetic paraphernalia that are not modern. His choice of poems for The Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1892-1935 ( New York, 1936) is revealing. The poets to whom he gives the greatest space do not belong to the school of Eliot and Pound, nor to the later group of Auden, Day Lewis, MacNeice, and Spender. The bulk of the book is given over to writers of the nineties or of later decades who accept and make use of a very unmodern mythology of dreams, desires, and passionate expressions of passionate longings. The poets are in love with Death, with Love, with their own Passionate Experience, and they are concerned to state their particular emotions. In such roles as those of lover, sage, sensualist, they tell the reader how they feel. There is no satire: poems descriptive of people or of the world aim at the expression pathos or indignation, and the statement of emotion is decorated with rhyme and meter in order to make it a poem. Of the ninety-seven
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Publication information: Book title: The Poet in the Poem:The Personae of Eliot, Yeats, and Pound. Contributors: George T. Wright - Author. Publisher: University of California Press. Place of publication: Berkeley, CA. Publication year: 1960. Page number: 88.
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