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Irish Poetry of the 1930s$
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Alan Gillis

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199277094

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199277094.001.0001

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W. B. Yeats: Among the Deepening Shades

W. B. Yeats: Among the Deepening Shades

(p.141) CHAPTER 6 W. B. Yeats: Among the Deepening Shades
Irish Poetry of the 1930s

Alan Gillis (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by arguing that the fact Yeats is hardly associated with the 1930s constitutes a serious blip in literary history, and sets out to rectify this hiatus. It discusses the complexity of his late verse and symbolism, his arguments with other modernists, his revisionism of Ireland’s recent past, and focuses on his radical idea of ‘tradition’. The chapter offers in-depth interpretations of ‘Vacillation’, ‘Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931’, aspects of A Vision, ‘The Statues’, ‘Byzantium’, his controversial late ballads, including the ‘Blueshirt’ poems, and ‘Lapis Lazuli’. Reading the aesthetic structure of his philosophy of history in the light of his poetry’s style and form, and vice versa, the chapter locates what it terms ‘inclusive disjunction’ at the heart of his poetic. It delineates the precise form of Yeats’s right-wing nihilism, but also his capacity for envisioning the possibility of transformations towards social harmony. It reads such remorseless dialecticism in the light of ideas from Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, arguing that although his conservative politics were worlds apart from theirs, his poetry’s engagement with contradiction and ruptured idealism creates an authentic and multidimensional aesthetic radicalism that has not yet been accounted for.

Keywords:   the 1930s, modernism, poetic form, poetic tradition, aesthetics, revisionism, Irish history, ballads, philosophy of history

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