W. B. YEATS
'And I would have all know that when all falls
In ruin, poetry calls out in joy
Being the scattering hand, the bursting pod,
The victim's joy among the holy flame,
God's laughter at the shattering of the world.'
IN W. B. YEATS the Irish drama had not only a founder, an acute business man and a courageous fighter, but something without which these would have been barren, a visionary poet. His work as critic and guide of the movement has been spoken of elsewhere.1. Here we are concerned with his service not to a movement and an enterprise (though these too were necessary) but to dramatic poetry, to that re-marriage of drama and poetry without which poetic faith is forgotten in the very theatre, which should be one of its chief strongholds. Whether or not he was primarily a dramatist matters little; many of the Elizabethans were not, but they produced one of the greatest surviving bodies of drama. He was, or made himself, enough of a dramatist for his purpose; he apprenticed himself to stage technique, and his belief in the theatre as the vehicle of poetry was strong enough for him to work with endless patience at the expression of his vision in dramatic form. His plays, even the earliest, are not lyric or narrative poetry loosely attached to a dramatic form; no more are they the drama of the library only, as were perforce those of the English poets of the nineteenth century. The union, however new to his century, was integral, not incidental.
In the early plays, Land of Heart's Desire, The Countess Cathleen____________________