THIS IS NOT THE PLACE TO RE-WRITE THE STORY of Yeats' striking development into a "modern" poet during the early decades of the twentieth century, but a brief survey of the forms which the tendencies traced above eventually took may be helpful by way of epilogue. Certainly Yeats remained in some sense a "Romantic" through his entire career, a fact indicated by the quotation from "Coole Park and Ballylee" which opened the first chapter, and reinforced in his last volume of poetry by "High Talk," where he envisages himself alternately as "Malachi Stilt-Jack" and "A barnacle goose / Far up in the stretches of night." It is the elevation of his artistic focus and of his subject matter with which he is concerned here, and with his role as diminished but determined heir to the great tradition:
What if my great-granddad had a pair that were twenty foot high, And mine were but fifteen foot, no modern stalks upon higher.
Actually, Yeats saw most fellow moderns stalking about with no stilts at all, losing elevation through their preoccupation with the prosaic and the accidental, and through their passive role as recorders; thus he writes in the introduction to the Oxford Book of Modern Verse: