Reconstructing Yeats: The Secret Rose and The Wind Among the Reeds

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Rowman & Littlefield, 1986 - Literary Criticism - 242 pages
This book focuses on the two works in the subtitle as well as on unpublished manuscripts and notebooks in the Yeats collection of the National Library of Ireland. The author argues that by the end of the 1890s Yeats had developed a coherent symbolic system based on his work with Irish folklore and mythology and that this system is most clearly delineated in the first editions of the work and in Yeats's unpublished papers. The book begins with a study of Yeats's Irish and Celtic sources, then moves on to outline the symbolic theory, drawing heavily on Yeats's notebooks. The theory is then applied in a critical study of the poems, prose, and plays of the last half of the 1890s.

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The Secret rose is as complex as any Yeats as written. Spanning a two thousand year period including the pre-christian years-is apoclyptic in its theme, which contrasts vividly with its humanistic theme. There is discord as well as logical or even forced contentment bordring on glee. The past and future blend in an amazing thrust beyond the natural world. One can feel or expect a resolution but the mood swings from past to future almost but not quite-inappropriately as the intensity of the reader rises. The second coming becomes prophetic of hope, yet the catalyptic/revelatory crisis is part of the central entity of the argument.
Robbie Byrd

Selected pages


Story and System Text and Context
Mythological to Monastic Ireland
3 The Seventeenth Century
The Eighteenth Century
The End of Two Millennia
The Lyric the Ballad and the Sequence
Rhythm and Metre A Subtler Enchantment
The Liturgy of Symbolic Action

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Page 8 - THE COMING OF WISDOM WITH TIME THOUGH leaves are many, the root is one; Through all the lying days of my youth I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun; Now I may wither into the truth.

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