W.B. Yeats and the Muses

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-09-13
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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W.B. Yeats and the Muses explores how nine fascinating women inspired much of W.B. Yeats's poetry. These women are particularly important because Yeats perceived them in terms of beliefs about poetic inspiration akin to the Greek notion that a great poet is inspired and possessed by the feminine voices of the Muses. Influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite idea of woman as 'romantic and mysterious, still the priestess of her shrine', Yeats found his Muses in living women. His extraordinarily long and fruitful poetic career was fuelled by passionate relationships with women to and about whom he wrote some of his most compelling poetry. The book summarizes the different Muse traditions that were congenial to Yeats and shows how his perception of these women as Muses underlies his poetry. Newly available letters and manuscripts are used to explore the creative process and interpret the poems.

Because Yeats believed that lyric poetry 'is no rootless flower, but the speech of a man,' exploring the relationship between poem and Muse brings new coherence to the poetry, illuminates the process of its creation, and unlocks the 'second beauty' to which Yeats referred when he claimed that 'works of lyric genius, when the circumstances of their origin is known, gain a second a beauty, passing as it were out of literature and becoming life.'

As life emerges from the literature, the Muses are shown to be vibrant, multi-faceted personalities who shatter the idea of the Muse as a passive stereotype and take their proper place as begetters of timeless poetry.

Author Biography

Joseph M. Hassett is a graduate of Harvard Law School and holds a doctorate in Anglo-Irish Literature from University College Dublin. He has written and lectured extensively on Yeats and other Irish writers. He lives and practices law in Washington, DC. He and his wife, Carol Melton, have two children, Matthew and Meredith.

Table of Contents

List of Platesp. vi
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Abbreviationsp. x
Manuscript Material Abbreviationsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
White Woman That Passion Has Wornp. 11
Where the Blessed Dancep. 37
The Apple on the Bough Most Out of Reachp. 65
The Living Beautyp. 103
Out of a Medium's Mouthp. 131
In Search of the Muse: Memories of Love and Lyrics for Imaginary Peoplep. 157
A Foolish, Passionate Manp. l69
Furyp. 185
Golden Codger and Sirenp. 199
Finalep. 209
Endnotesp. 213
Bibliographyp. 235
Indexp. 245
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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