William Butler Yeats and mysticism: a neo-platonic approach to his poetry

Tülüce, Mustafa Uğur
Finding the truth about the universe is the way of the mystic. Mystics try to achieve union with a transcendental power through a search within themselves and through the divine reflected on earth. The Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939) was under the influence of different understandings of mysticism throughout his career. This study aims to explore how Yeats‘ poetry reflects this mystical influence. The focus of the study is on Yeats‘ late period when he was highly influenced by Neo-platonism and particularly by Plotinus. In analysing Yeats‘ late poetry from this perspective, this thesis argues that Yeats aestheticized Plotinus‘ mystical world in his poetry and that Plotinus‘ ideas were transcribed in Yeats‘ second edition of A Vision. However, Yeats was not content with Plotinus‘ philosophy altogether. While the foundation of Yeats‘ own mystical philosophy is built on Plotinus‘ theories, he modifies them to his own preferences and gives more importance to the earthly aspect of mystical theory by transposing the transcendent into the poetic space, hence reconciling art and philosophy, and the concepts of Becoming and Being. 


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Citation Formats
M. U. Tülüce, “William Butler Yeats and mysticism: a neo-platonic approach to his poetry,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2017.