Chapter

Fury: Dorothy Wellesley

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199582907.003.0009
Fury: Dorothy Wellesley

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Yeats's experimentation with the ideas developed in Per Amica and A Vision took a startling turn in June 1935 when he met Dorothy Wellesley. His letters to Wellesley reflect beliefs that her role as Muse would be colored by her lesbianism, and that her Muse was located at the intersection of what he perceived as the masculine and feminine aspects of her personality. ‘What makes your work so good’, he wrote her, is its masculine element amid so much feminine charm. Your lines have the magnificent swing of your boyish body. I wish I could be a girl of nineteen for certain hours that I might feel it even more acutely. He had already suggested to Wellesley that his own creativity arose out of ‘the woman in me.’ ‘To Dorothy Wellesley’ suggests that Wellesley's Muses are Furies, primitive earth goddesses who, as Erich Neumann has shown, represent angry emotional forces that are opposite to those of the Muses but, because of the tendency of opposites to merge into each other, can be forerunners of inspiration. Yeats's own Muse was now a Fury as well. The beast of hatred had replaced concentration on Gonne as the besom that could clear his soul and open the way to inspiration. Chapter 8 explains how the manifestation of what Adorno called ‘late style,’ the lust and rage described in a poem (‘The Spur’) Yeats sent to Wellesley, threatened to dominate his relationship with his Muse.

Keywords: Dorothy Wellesley; The Spur; lust and rage; to Dorothy Wellesley; Adorno; late style; androgynous Muse

Chapter.  5441 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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