Yeats and the Occult

One thing I found interesting when exploring the Yeats exhibition was his collection of prose works. Since I hadn’t read anything from Yeats before this class, it has been very interesting (an a little confusing) to read his poems, so when I first saw that display in the exhibit, I was curious to see how or if the themes from Yeats’ poetry made their way into his prose. One thing that stood out to me about the display was that each of the pieces had themes of spirituality and folklore, which seems to be in line with his poetry. It also makes me reflect back on what exactly Yeats’ stance on religion and the occult was.

I was particularly intrigued by his story “The Secret Rose,” because the manuscript on display had a bunch of edits on it, as it is the printer’s proof. Unfortunately, the handwriting was too messy for me to read, but it made me wonder what the final product looked like compared to the original manuscript and why those edits were pointed out. This piece also has a lot of occult influence, which drew me in. The description of this particular piece also talked about its basis in Irish folk tradition and literature, so it makes me curious about the relationship between the occult and Irish folklore. I think it would be really interesting to research more into Yeats’ prose to see what kind of influence it had, or how it was influenced by its time.

1 Comment

  1. I am enjoying all of the posts on here talking about Yeats and the occult, I can really see that in his fascination with gyres and especially in “The Second Coming” his interest in relics that survive centuries and centuries of human interference and still possess power and omnipotence. As to your interest in the occult and Irish folklore, there is indeed a strong connection there. There is also an interesting focus on powerful magical women in Irish folklore, queens with magical powers and queens capable of using spells during battle and overcoming men with them- so if you are interested I would explore some of those tales. From a Christian perspective- they definitely involved practices associated with the occult. Here is a link you might find interesting as a jumping off point into that exploration:

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