Yeats also continued to explore mysticism. Only four days after the wedding, his bride began what would be a lengthy experiment with the psychic phenomenon called automatic writing, in which her hand and pen presumably served as unconscious instruments for the spirit world to send information. Yeats and his wife held more than sessions of automatic writing, producing nearly 4, pages that Yeats avidly and patiently studied and organized.
From these sessions Yeats formulated theories about life and history. He contended that gyres were initiated by the divine impregnation of a mortal woman—first, the rape of Leda by Zeus; later, the immaculate conception of Mary.
Yeats found that within each 2,year era, emblematic moments occurred at the midpoints of the year halves. At these moments of balance, he believed, a civilization could achieve special excellence, and Yeats cited as examples the splendor of Athens at B. Yeats further likened these historical cycles to the day lunar cycle, contending that physical existence grows steadily until it reaches a maximum at the full moon, which Yeats described as perfect beauty.
In the remaining half of the cycle, physical existence gradually falls away, until it disappears completely at the new moon, whereupon the cycle begins again. Applying this pattern both to historical eras and to individuals' lives, Yeats observed that a person completes the phases as he advances from birth to maturity and declines toward death.
In bitter controversies erupted within the new Irish Free State over the partition of Northern Ireland and over the wording of a formal oath of allegiance to the British Crown. These issues led to an Irish civil war, which lasted from June to May Yeats emphatically sided with the new Irish government. He accepted a six-year appointment to the senate of the Irish Free State in December , a time when rebels were kidnapping government figures and burning their homes. In Dublin, where Yeats had assumed permanent residence in after maintaining a home for 30 years in London , the government even posted armed sentries at his door.
He was also a world-renowned artist of impressive stature, having received the Nobel Prize for Literature in Even his romantic poems from the late s often mention gray hair and weariness, though those poems were written while he was still a young man. In , as an expression of gaiety after recovering from a serious illness, he also wrote a series of brash, vigorous poems narrated by a fictitious old peasant woman, Crazy Jane.
As Yeats aged, he saw Ireland change in ways that angered him. But Yeats offset his frequently brazen manner with the personal conflicts expressed in his last poems. He faced death with a courage that was founded partly on his vague hope for reincarnation and partly on his admiration for the bold heroism that he perceived in Ireland in both ancient times and the 18th century. Literary modernism held no inherent attraction for him except perhaps in its general association with youthful vigor.
He admired a wide range of traditional English poetry and drama, and he simply was unconcerned that, during the last two decades of his life, his preference for using rhyme and strict stanza forms would set him apart from the vogue of modern poetry. He was, from first to last, a poet who tried to transform the local concerns of his own life by embodying them in the resonantly universal language of his poems.
His brilliant rhetorical accomplishments, strengthened by his considerable powers of rhythm and poetic phrase, have earned wide praise from readers and, especially, from fellow poets, including W. It is not likely that time will diminish his achievements. It speaks out of a solitude to a solitude; it begins and ends in silence. Kimiko Hahn joins Danez and Franny as they go down some rabbit holes, and maybe even through a few portals.
They talk her tenth book, poetic auntie status, Japanese poetry Also author of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales, Contributor to periodicals. Presser, Prose Home Harriet Blog. Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library. Newsletter Subscribe Give. Poetry Foundation. Back to Previous. William Butler Yeats.
Poems by William Butler Yeats. Related Content. More About this Poet. Adam's Curse. Among School Children.
Appeared in Poetry Magazine. Beggar to Beggar Cried. The Cap and Bells.
A Coat. The Cold Heaven. Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop. The Dawn. A Dialogue of Self and Soul. Down By the Salley Gardens. A Drinking Song. Easter, Ego Dominus Tuus. The Everlasting Voices. Fallen Majesty. The Fish. The Fisherman.
The Four Ages of Man. A Full Moon in March. The Grey Rock.
The Hawk. He and She. He wishes his Beloved were Dead. An Irish Airman foresees his Death.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree. Lapis Lazuli. Leda and the Swan. Love and the Bird. The Magi. A Meditation in Time of War.
The Mountain Tomb. A Needle's Eye. Never give all the Heart. No Second Troy. On a Political Prisoner. On being asked for a War Poem. On Woman.
The Only Jealousy of Emer. The Peacock.