Why Yeats?

Welcome to The Poet Reflected, a new blog aimed at cataloguing my study of Yeats, his writing, his relationships and his occult work.

Why Yeats?

There are many threads coming together to propel and compel me to studying Yeats; chief amongst them is the slow realisation that the aspect of Yeats’s literature I found most intriguing was an area that many literary scholars had broached before, albeit to mixed reception. Through my undergraduate studies in the University of Limerick (UL) I had the good-fortune to avail of teaching from one of the world’s foremost experts on Yeats, Professor Margaret Mills-Harper, who, while taking up the position of Glucksman’s Chair in UL, I noted had a keen interest in Yeats’ esoteric practices – even displaying some horary astrology charts he cast. This was the first time I’d felt encouraged to explore the “Esoteric Yeats”. So when finishing up on Final Year Project (FYP; essentially a limited thesis undertaken as part of undergraduate work) and considering what MA research I would like to engage with the Esoteric Yeats became a glaringly obvious choice.

I am not the first to consider Yeats’ esoteric practices with many ranging in opinion from those assuming it was the deluge of an eccentric playing make belief to others who afforded his occultism with more regard but didn’t necessarily understand it’s potency or nuances. It is most difficult at the onset of a project such as a thesis to predict it’s final and central thesis, nor should one endeavour to do so.

Yeats straddles that line between international poet and national figure and depending upon whom you ask which is more important. Much of Yeats’ involvement with nationalism in Ireland has been reviewed in papers and theses; and some, like Margaret Mills-Harper (2006) have even taken up the mantle of her father through exploring the relationship between Georgie and her husband in The Vision series, which incorporated automatic writing as a mode of creative exploration.

What next?

With so much to review and contextualise, from writers such as George Mills-Haper, Katherine Raine (1986), R.F. Foster (1998), Susan Johnston-Graf (2003), etc. it stands to reason that much of this Summer will be spent reviewing books and material and drawing up reviews for the blog. For obvious reasons these will form the skeleton to the process and much will need to chopped away before developing the centre area of research.

Luckily, I am located in Ireland and have access to many of Yeats’ documents in the National Library of Ireland (NLI). The collection also includes much of Yeats’ surviving occult papers and some of those from his uncle.

To this end, this is primarily what readers of this blog can expect, on top of my own research I will be collecting links and references to articles that I think readers might be interested in.


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