W. B. Yeats pp 166-188 | Cite as

Yeats and Modern Poetry

  • Alasdair D. F. Macrae
Part of the Macmillan Literary Lives book series (LL)


In a memorial lecture delivered in the Abbey Theatre, a year after Yeats’s death in 1939, T. S. Eliot made several claims concerning the status of the dead poet. The first, and we must remember that Eliot’s influential criticism made ‘impersonality’ a central criterion of poetry, is stated as follows:

There are two kinds of impersonality: that which is natural to a mere skilful craftsman, and that which is more and more achieved by the maturing artist … The second impersonality is that of the poet who, out of intense and personal experience, is able to express a general truth; retaining all the particularity of his experience, to make of it a general symbol. And the strange thing is that Yeats, having been a great craftsman in the first kind, became a great poet in the second.1


Strange Thing Literary Life Great Poet Modern Poetry American Poet 
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  1. 5.
    Selected Writings of Walter Pater ed. H. Bloom (New York: New American Library, 1974), p. 47.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alasdair D. F. Macrae 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alasdair D. F. Macrae
    • 1
  1. 1.University of StirlingUK

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