"The Birth of a New Species of Man . . . from Terror"
Yeats's Poetics of Violence
Yeats's career serves well as a bridge between early and late periods of collectivism and modernism--between fearing and joining the masses. In Woolf, Eliot, and Joyce, the early period, as we have seen, was characterized by a desire to remain separate from the masses and by a horror at the inability to do so. Yeats sought all his life to write a poetry that would express or create a national mind. So the transition in his works has to be seen as a move from an individualist to a collectivist vision of a nation, from a sense that the individual can hold the essence of the nation within his mind to the sense that the only way to create the nation is to disrupt the individual mind. In his early career, Yeats believed that the best way to create a new Ireland was to resist current political movements: like D'Annunzio and the young Joyce, Yeats felt that the artist's vision was superior to anything offered by political movements. Drawing on William Morris, Yeats felt that politics was in its entirety too bourgeois.
Around the time of the Easter 1916 massacre, there was a change in his thinking that modified poetic form and political practice alike: he became convinced that certain political acts, particularly violent ones, could be sufficient, if timed properly, to bring about radical change in everything, including the mind of the artist. His admiration for James Connolly and Padraic Pearse in the poems of this period points to the political theories of violence that underlay Yeats's new poetic project. Connolly studied with Sorelian syndicalists in France, and much of Yeats's development paralleled developments occurring among syndicalists in France and Italy that transformed socialists into Fascists. Such parallels do not necessarily con-