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The Cutting of an Agate   By: (1865-1939)

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THE CUTTING OF AN AGATE

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO DALLAS · SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD. TORONTO

THE CUTTING OF AN AGATE

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

AUTHOR OF "IDEAS OF GOOD AND EVIL," ETC.

New York THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1912

All rights reserved

COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1912.

PREFACE

When I wrote the essay on Edmund Spenser the company of Irish players who have now their stage at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin had been founded, but gave as yet few performances in a twelvemonth. I could let my thought stray where it would, and even give a couple of summers to The Faerie Queene ; while for some ten years now I have written little verse and no prose that did not arise out of some need of those players or some thought suggested by their work, or was written in the defence of some friend whose life has been a part of the movement of events which is creating a new Ireland unintelligible to an old Ireland that watches with anger or indifference. The detailed defence of plays and players, published originally in Samhain , the occasional periodical of the theatre, and now making some three hundred pages of Mr. Bullen's collected edition of my writings, is not here, but for the most part an exposition of principles, whether suggested by my own work or by the death of friend or fellow worker, that, intended for no great public, has been printed and published from a Hand Press which my sisters manage at Dundrum with the help of the village girls. I have been busy with a single art, that of the theatre, of a small, unpopular theatre; and this art may well seem to practical men, busy with some programme of industrial or political regeneration, of no more account than the shaping of an agate; and yet in the shaping of an agate, whether in the cutting or the making of the design, one discovers, if one have a speculative mind, thoughts that seem important and principles that may be applied to life itself, and certainly if one does not believe so, one is but a poor cutter of so hard a stone.

W. B. YEATS.

August, 1912.

CONTENTS

PAGE

THOUGHTS ON LADY GREGORY'S TRANSLATIONS I. Cuchulain and his Cycle 1 II. Fion and his Cycle 12

PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION OF THE WELL OF THE SAINTS 36

DISCOVERIES Prophet, Priest and King 49 Personality and the Intellectual Essences 56 The Musician and the Orator 61 A Guitar Player 63 The Looking glass 65 The Tree of Life 67 The Praise of Old Wives' Tales 71 The Play of Modern Manners 73 Has the Drama of Contemporary Life a Root of its Own? 76 Why the Blind Man in Ancient Times was made a Poet 79 Concerning Saints and Artists 85 The Subject Matter of Drama 89 The Two Kinds of Asceticism 94 In the Serpent's Mouth 97 The Black and the White Arrows 99 His Mistress's Eyebrows 100 The Tresses of the Hair 103 A Tower on the Apennines 104 The Thinking of the Body 106 Religious Belief Necessary to Religious Art 109 The Holy Places 113

POETRY AND TRADITION 116

PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION OF JOHN M... Continue reading book >>




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