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Crying In Plato'S Teeth—W.B. Yeats And Platonic Inspiration

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines how Yeats incorporates the Platonic impasse between inspiration and philosophical knowledge into his work and how his understanding of the daemonic in poetry helps him to navigate that impasse. Perhaps the most striking aspect of Yeats's attempt to reconcile the Platonic tension between inspiration and self-knowledge is the consistency with which he practices his own theory. The Daemon shows him the way from poetic inspiration to philosophical knowledge and, ultimately, back again. Yeats was interested primarily in a literary problem, one whose origins lay not in literal madness nor superhuman self-possession but in the puzzling and unsettling realization that his own words may have something to teach him, some meaning he could not have imagined when he wrote them. It was Plato himself whom Yeats had in mind when he reflected upon his own youthful poems.

Keywords: Daemon; Plato; poems; W.B. Yeats



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