In this third volume, Yeats’s poetry of the first decade of the twentieth century is brought into sharp focus, revealing the extent of his efforts to re-fashion a style that had already made him a well-known poet. All of the major modes in Yeats’s earlier work are subject to radical re-imagining in these years, from poetic narrative founded in Irish myth, in poems such as ‘Baile and Aillinn’ and ‘The Old Age of Queen Maeve’, to the symbolist drama-poetry of The Shadowy Waters, here edited in its two (completely different) versions of 1900 and 1906. In a decade when the theatre was one of Yeats’s principal concerns, his lyric poems, which were becoming increasingly explicit in personal terms, began to discover new intensities of conversational pitch and mythic resonance. Poems such as ‘The Folly of Being Comforted’, ‘Adam’s Curse’, ‘No Second Troy’, and ‘The Fascination of What’s Difficult’ are given close attention in this new edition, alongside topical and epigrammatic pieces that are often passed over in accounts of Yeats’s development. The evolving complexities of Yeats’s personal and political lives are crucial to his artistic growth in these years, and the commentary gives these generous attention, showing how the poetry both feeds upon and often transcends the circumstances of its composition. The volume offers strong evidence for this decade as a crucial one in Yeats’s poetic life, in which the poet created wholly new registers for his verse as well as new dimensions for his imaginative vision.
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