To “Beat Upon the Wall”: Reading A Vision

  • Colin McDowell
Part of the Yeats Annual book series (YA)

Abstract

To what extent may we consider that A Vision is a completed work? Numerous readers have come away from an attempt to read the book with the feeling that it is radically flawed. Perhaps this is the case. Perhaps the whole idea that geometry can lead to a truth worth telling about living creatures is misconceived. If so, Yeats is not alone in his misconception, and such a judgment does not appeal to my sense of adventure. Readers who feel that way about geometry should leave A Vision alone, as they will have left Plato’s Tinueus to those who prefer such things. Perhaps, though, A Vision is not wrong in its conception, but in its execution: the way in which Yeats has tried to capture his geometric “truth” on paper is not adequate to the subject. This idea is extremely problematic: if we find the work so flawed that it obscures its own exposition, we have no way of knowing what idea it is against which we are measuring the imperfections. Yeats’s various statements about his intentions can be read in many different and contradictory senses, so they do not help in this matter.

Keywords

Vortex Coherence Metaphor Verse Hone 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Richard Ellmann, Eminent Domain: Yeats among Wilde, Joyce, Pound, Eliot and Auden (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967) pp. 80–1.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Hugh Kenner, “Unpurged Images”, The Hudson Review, 8 (1956) 615.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Richard Ellmann, “Preface to the 1979 Edition”, Yeats: the Man and the Masks (London: Oxford University Press, 1979) p. xxxii.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Richard Taylor, ed. Frank Pearce Sturm: His Life, Letters, and Collected Works (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1969) pp. 100–1.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    George Mills Harper, “ ‘ Unbelievers in the House’: Yeats’s Automatic Script”, Studies in the Literary Imagination, 14: 1 ( 1981 ) 1–15.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Helen Vendler, Yeats’s Vision and the Later Plays (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963) p. 26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 11.
    Rosemary Puglia Ritvo, “A Vision B: the Plotinian Metaphysical Basis”, Review of English Studies, 26 (1975) 34–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Warwick Gould 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin McDowell

There are no affiliations available

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