I have made the following readings of what I consider to be the most interesting and the most difficult of Yeats's Last Poems with the end in view of making them more immediately accessible both to readers of his poetry and to those who read poetry but do not know the Last Poems. The fact that the Last Poems were almost unavailable during the war and post-war years has left a gap of ignorance concerning them even among the many readers of Yeats's earlier work. While his publishers in England have recently released a new edition of the Last Poems, as part of the long-awaited and definitive Collected Poems, the final proof of which Yeats corrected on his death-bed in 1939, considering the great demand for these poems both in England and the United States, this edition may not at once meet the public need. Partly to alleviate this situation, but more primarily to make the job of continual textual reference (without which I do not believe poetry can be profitably discussed) more convenient for the reader, I have prefaced each of my discussions of a particular poem with the text of that poem as given in the 1940 edition of Last Poems and Plays ( Macmillan).
My method of reading these poems can be best seen in the readings themselves, and I do not think it useful