Divided Image: A Study of William Blake and W. B. Yeats

Divided Image: A Study of William Blake and W. B. Yeats

Divided Image: A Study of William Blake and W. B. Yeats

Divided Image: A Study of William Blake and W. B. Yeats

Excerpt

It is perhaps as well to start by saying what I have not attempted to do in this study. There have been many valuable books on Yeats published recently, all of them chiefly concerned with presenting the available biographical data. Although indebted to these authors and to the kindness of Mrs. Yeats, this study is not a rival to the biographies. Indeed, it lacks much of the human warmth of such material in the bulk, and can only assume the richness as a background. Nor have I been concerned very much with textual criticism, except in one or two instances. The lack of these two concrete themes, and the very--shall we say 'fantastic'?--nature of the inquiry, leaves one more than a little open to such mild criticism as,

I do like a room with a floor;
I don't mind about walls and a door,
But this walking around
With both feet off the ground
Is getting to be quite a bore
.

Nevertheless, the risk must be run in the belief that Yeats' extraordinary hero-worship of his 'master' Blake can shed much light on what is obscure in Yeats' own 'philosophy' and in his psychological make-up. Although I have tried not to use the jargon of psychology, of necessity the approach is as much psychological as literary or philosophical. It is frankly Christian, as was that of Yeats' authority, Blake, which is perhaps useful in providing a yard-stick. It is vision, mystical vision, that Yeats longed to win in imitating Blake, and it is vision that we are examining in this study. Too often this leaves me talking about what a poem says rather than what it is. I am well aware of this danger.

Since such a discussion verges on to the dangerous and slippery no-man's-land of complex intangible ideas and relations, it is necessary to have the firm ground of defined terms. In these realms, where . . .

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