In Search of the Muse: Memories of Love and Lyrics for Imaginary People

Joseph M. Hassett

in W.B. Yeats and the Muses

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199582907
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723216 | DOI:
In Search of the Muse: Memories of Love and Lyrics for Imaginary People

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Chapter 6 explores the fascinating transition in Yeats's relationship with his Muse that accompanied the subsidence of his wife's role as an oracle and the fading of the erotic dimension of their marriage. Yeats's unease about the apparent loss of his Muse is apparent in ‘The Tower,’ in which he laments the apparent need to ‘bid the Muse go pack.’ Instead, Yeats found a new way to adhere to his early decision to find in his experiences as lover the emotion that would open the door to inspiration. Lacking a living Muse, but knowing that the Muses are the daughters of memory, he plumbed memories of past love to find new inspirational energy in the possibility of continuing past loves beyond the grave and restoring them in a way that defied time. A study of the drafts of ‘Sailing to Byzanthium’ shows how that lofty philosophical poem arose out of Yeats's meditation on past loves in ‘A Man Young and Old’ and his defiant effort to transform his earthly Muses into timeless singing masters of his soul. The same urge is apparent in the Crazy Jane poems, in which Yeats, speaking in the feminine voice of his own Muse, insists that ‘All things remain in God.’ Inspired by the idea of his timeless Muses, Yeats insists in ‘The Results of Thought’ that his poetic power can return his Muses to ‘all their wholesome strength.’ Toward the end of this period, Yeats experiences his eternal Muses so powerfully that he insists that he himself is ‘self‐born, born anew.’

Keywords: Ageing Muse poet; Sailing to Byzanthium; sailing to byzanthium as Muse poem; Yeats speaking in the voice of his Muse; Crazy Jane poems; The results of thought; sun and stream at glendalough

Chapter.  3977 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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