Yeats derided MacBride in letters and in poetry. He worried his muse would come under the influence of the priests and do their bidding.
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Gonne's marriage to MacBride was a disaster. This pleased Yeats, as Gonne began to visit him in London. Despite the use of intermediaries, a divorce case ensued in Paris in Gonne made a series of allegations against her husband with Yeats as her main 'second', though he did not attend court or travel to France. A divorce was not granted, for the only accusation that held up in court was that MacBride had been drunk once during the marriage.
A separation was granted, with Gonne having custody of the baby and MacBride having visiting rights.
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Yeats's friendship with Gonne ended, yet, in Paris in , they finally consummated their relationship. Yeats was less sentimental and later remarked that "the tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul.
My arms are like the twisted thorn And yet there beauty lay; The first of all the tribe lay there And did such pleasure take; She who had brought great Hector down And put all Troy to wreck. Gregory encouraged Yeats's nationalism and convinced him to continue focusing on writing drama. Although he was influenced by French Symbolism , Yeats concentrated on an identifiably Irish content and this inclination was reinforced by his involvement with a new generation of younger and emerging Irish authors.
Together with Lady Gregory, Martyn, and other writers including J. One of the most significant of these was Douglas Hyde , later the first President of Ireland, whose Love Songs of Connacht was widely admired. The collective survived for about two years but was not successful. Yeats remained involved with the Abbey until his death, both as a member of the board and a prolific playwright. In , he helped set up the Dun Emer Press to publish work by writers associated with the Revival. This became the Cuala Press in , and inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, sought to "find work for Irish hands in the making of beautiful things.
Yeats met the American poet Ezra Pound in Pound had travelled to London at least partly to meet the older man, whom he considered "the only poet worthy of serious study. The relationship got off to a rocky start when Pound arranged for the publication in the magazine Poetry of some of Yeats's verse with Pound's own unauthorised alterations. These changes reflected Pound's distaste for Victorian prosody.
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A more indirect influence was the scholarship on Japanese Noh plays that Pound had obtained from Ernest Fenollosa 's widow, which provided Yeats with a model for the aristocratic drama he intended to write. The first of his plays modelled on Noh was At the Hawk's Well , the first draft of which he dictated to Pound in January The emergence of a nationalist revolutionary movement from the ranks of the mostly Roman Catholic lower-middle and working class made Yeats reassess some of his attitudes. He would often visit and stay there as it was a central meeting place for people who supported the resurgence of Irish literature and cultural traditions.
His poem, " The Wild Swans at Coole " was written there, between and In the preface of the latter, he wrote: "One must not expect in these stories the epic lineaments, the many incidents, woven into one great event of, let us say the War for the Brown Bull of Cuailgne or that of the last gathering at Muirthemne. Yeats was an Irish Nationalist , who sought a kind of traditional lifestyle articulated through poems such as 'The Fisherman'.
However, as his life progressed, he sheltered much of his revolutionary spirit and distanced himself from the intense political landscape until , when he was appointed Senator for the Irish Free State. In the earlier part of his life, Yeats was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. In the s Yeats was fascinated with the authoritarian, anti-democratic, nationalist movements of Europe, and he composed several marching songs for the Blueshirts , although they were never used. He was a fierce opponent of individualism and political liberalism and saw the fascist movements as a triumph of public order and the needs of the national collective over petty individualism.
On the other hand, he was also an elitist who abhorred the idea of mob-rule, and saw democracy as a threat to good governance and public order.
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Moran called him a minor poet and " crypto-Protestant conman. By , Yeats was 51 years old and determined to marry and produce an heir. His rival John MacBride had been executed for his role in the Easter Rising , so Yeats hoped that his widow might remarry. Foster has observed that Yeats's last offer was motivated more by a sense of duty than by a genuine desire to marry her.
Yeats proposed in an indifferent manner, with conditions attached, and he both expected and hoped she would turn him down. According to Foster "when he duly asked Maud to marry him and was duly refused, his thoughts shifted with surprising speed to her daughter.
She had lived a sad life to this point; conceived as an attempt to reincarnate her short-lived brother, for the first few years of her life she was presented as her mother's adopted niece. When Maud told her that she was going to marry, Iseult cried and told her mother that she hated MacBride. At fifteen, she proposed to Yeats. In , he proposed to Iseult but was rejected.
Despite warnings from her friends—"George He must be dead"—Hyde-Lees accepted, and the two were married on 20 October. The couple went on to have two children, Anne and Michael. Although in later years he had romantic relationships with other women, Georgie herself wrote to her husband "When you are dead, people will talk about your love affairs, but I shall say nothing, for I will remember how proud you were. During the first years of marriage, they experimented with automatic writing ; she contacted a variety of spirits and guides they called "Instructors" while in a trance.
The spirits communicated a complex and esoteric system of philosophy and history, which the couple developed into an exposition using geometrical shapes: phases, cones, and gyres. In , he wrote to his publisher T. Werner Laurie, admitting: "I dare say I delude myself in thinking this book my book of books". In December , Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature , "for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation".
His reply to many of the letters of congratulations sent to him contained the words: "I consider that this honour has come to me less as an individual than as a representative of Irish literature, it is part of Europe's welcome to the Free State. Yeats used the occasion of his acceptance lecture at the Royal Academy of Sweden to present himself as a standard-bearer of Irish nationalism and Irish cultural independence. As he remarked, "The theatres of Dublin were empty buildings hired by the English travelling companies, and we wanted Irish plays and Irish players.
When we thought of these plays we thought of everything that was romantic and poetical because the nationalism we had called up—the nationalism every generation had called up in moments of discouragement—was romantic and poetical. For the first time he had money, and he was able to repay not only his own debts but those of his father. By early , Yeats's health had stabilised, and he had completed most of the writing for A Vision dated , it actually appeared in January , when he almost immediately started rewriting it for a second version.
He had been appointed to the first Irish Senate in , and was re-appointed for a second term in In response, Yeats delivered a series of speeches that attacked the "quixotically impressive" ambitions of the government and clergy, likening their campaign tactics to those of "medieval Spain. This conviction has come to us through ancient philosophy and modern literature, and it seems to us a most sacrilegious thing to persuade two people who hate each other His language became more forceful; the Jesuit Father Peter Finlay was described by Yeats as a man of "monstrous discourtesy", and he lamented that "It is one of the glories of the Church in which I was born that we have put our Bishops in their place in discussions requiring legislation".
You will put a wedge in the midst of this nation". In , he chaired a coinage committee charged with selecting a set of designs for the first currency of the Irish Free State.
Aware of the symbolic power latent in the imagery of a young state's currency, he sought a form that was "elegant, racy of the soil, and utterly unpolitical". Towards the end of his life—and especially after the Wall Street Crash of and Great Depression , which led some to question whether democracy could cope with deep economic difficulty—Yeats seems to have returned to his aristocratic sympathies. During the aftermath of the First World War, he became sceptical about the efficacy of democratic government, and anticipated political reconstruction in Europe through totalitarian rule.
At the age of 69 he was 'rejuvenated' by the Steinach operation which was performed on 6 April by Norman Haire.
In a letter of , Yeats noted: "I find my present weakness made worse by the strange second puberty the operation has given me, the ferment that has come upon my imagination. If I write poetry it will be unlike anything I have done". Attempts had been made at Roquebrune to dissuade the family from proceeding with the removal of the remains to Ireland due to the uncertainty of their identity.
His body had earlier been exhumed and transferred to the ossuary. According to George, "His actual words were 'If I die, bury me up there [at Roquebrune] and then in a year's time when the newspapers have forgotten me, dig me up and plant me in Sligo'. Neither Michael Yeats nor Sean MacBride, the Irish foreign minister who organised the ceremony, wanted to know the details of how the remains were collected, Ostrorog notes. He repeatedly urges caution and discretion and says the Irish ambassador in Paris should not be informed.
The French Foreign Ministry authorized Ostrorog to secretly cover the cost of repatriation from his slush fund. Authorities were worried about the fact that the much-loved poet's remains were thrown into a communal grave, causing embarrassment for both Ireland and France.
Yeats is considered one of the key twentieth century English language poets.