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Ideas of Good and Evil   By: (1865-1939)

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Ideas of Good and Evil

BY THE SAME WRITER THE SECRET ROSE THE CELTIC TWILIGHT POEMS THE WIND AMONG THE REEDS THE SHADOWY WATERS PLAYS FOR AN IRISH THEATRE VOL. I. WHERE THERE IS NOTHING VOL. II. SHORTER PLAYS

Ideas of Good and Evil

Second Edition

Ideas of Good and Evil.

By W. B. Yeats

A. H. BULLEN, 47 Great Russell

Street, London, W.C. MCMIII

Contents.

WHAT IS 'POPULAR POETRY'? 1

SPEAKING TO THE PSALTERY 16

MAGIC 29

THE HAPPIEST OF THE POETS 70

THE PHILOSOPHY OF SHELLEY'S POETRY 90

AT STRATFORD ON AVON 142

WILLIAM BLAKE AND THE IMAGINATION 168

WILLIAM BLAKE AND HIS ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE DIVINE COMEDY 176

SYMBOLISM IN PAINTING 226

THE SYMBOLISM OF POETRY 237

THE THEATRE 257

THE CELTIC ELEMENT IN LITERATURE 270

THE AUTUMN OF THE BODY 296

THE MOODS 306

THE BODY OF THE FATHER CHRISTIAN ROSENCRUX 308

THE RETURN OF ULYSSES 312

IRELAND AND THE ARTS 320

THE GALWAY PLAINS 333

EMOTION OF MULTITUDE 339

Note. The Essay on Symbolism in Painting originally formed part of an Introduction to A Book of Images drawn by W. T. Horton (Unicorn Press), 1898.

WHAT IS 'POPULAR POETRY'?

I think it was a Young Ireland Society that set my mind running on 'popular poetry.' We used to discuss everything that was known to us about Ireland, and especially Irish literature and Irish history. We had no Gaelic, but paid great honour to the Irish poets who wrote in English, and quoted them in our speeches. I could have told you at that time the dates of the birth and death, and quoted the chief poems, of men whose names you have not heard, and perhaps of some whose names I have forgotten. I knew in my heart that the most of them wrote badly, and yet such romance clung about them, such a desire for Irish poetry was in all our minds, that I kept on saying, not only to others but to myself, that most of them wrote well, or all but well. I had read Shelley and Spenser and had tried to mix their styles together in a pastoral play which I have not come to dislike much, and yet I do not think Shelley or Spenser ever moved me as did these poets. I thought one day I can remember the very day when I thought it 'If somebody could make a style which would not be an English style and yet would be musical and full of colour, many others would catch fire from him, and we would have a really great school of ballad poetry in Ireland. If these poets, who have never ceased to fill the newspapers and the ballad books with their verses, had a good tradition they would write beautifully and move everybody as they move me.' Then a little later on I thought, 'If they had something else to write about besides political opinions, if more of them would write about the beliefs of the people like Allingham, or about old legends like Ferguson, they would find it easier to get a style.' Then, with a deliberateness that still surprises me, for in my heart of hearts I have never been quite certain that one should be more than an artist, that even patriotism is more than an impure desire in an artist, I set to work to find a style and things to write about that the ballad writers might be the better.

They are no better, I think, and my desire to make them so was, it may be, one of the illusions Nature holds before one, because she knows that the gifts she has to give are not worth troubling about... Continue reading book >>




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