The System of W. B. Yeats’s A Vision
Edmund Dulac’s woodcut of the Wheel of the 28 Phases of the Moon (1937 version; A Vision B 66)
from ‘The Second Coming’
Note to ‘The Second Coming’, Michael Robartes and the Dancer [full text] (Dundrum: Cuala Press, 1922)
This site does not offer a hypertext of A Vision itself and does not aim to offer a substitute for Yeats’s A Vision; this is not only because of copyright reasons, but because the ‘book of A Vision’ is an artefact in itself (see The Book of Yeats's Vision by Hazard Adams). This link gives some notes about buying a copy over the internet .
The pages here do attempt to offer a clear and helpful guide to the ideas of A Vision and, in doing so, they sometimes extend and develop the material beyond what is explicitly contained in A Vision; some of the diagrams in particular represent significantly different reformulations of those created by the Yeatses.
The site does not aim to present a sustained argument either, although much of the material is associated with a doctoral thesis I presented at Oxford University and which I am preparing for book publication with a provisional title of Yeats's A Vision: Human and Divine Images; do contact me if you are interested in an electronic copy of the thesis. Inevitably, some complex themes have been simplified somewhat to make them more appropriate for this type of presentation, and much that is discussed in the book has been omitted, while there is more explanatory and descriptive treatment here. The majority of sources are noted, but the scholarly apparatus has also been abbreviated.
These pages are subject to continuing extension and improvement, and if you have any suggestions or comments, please contact me.
The font for the text of this site is not fixed, to enable you to read it in whatever typeface you prefer. Also, what suits the screen may not suit the printed page.
Those using Firefox as browser may find some of the characters represented by little question-marks in black diamond squares, and can change viewing settings—click here for details.
This site is a work in progress, and the content is very gradually expanding, not least in response to readers’ comments and suggestions. There may be some links to pages that are projected but not yet completed, and the site-map gives a picture of the current and projected shape of the site. Any comment is welcome.
|I have a (very desultorily updated) blog which explores aspects of A Vision and the Yeatses' System that do not fall within the more scholarly and factual ambit of this website. It examines elements of the system that interest me, particularly looking at parallels and how the System fits with esoteric and symbolic systems more generally. Whereas the website aims to offer clear and direct interpretation of A Vision for readers and students, confining itself largely to what Yeats himself wrote and to the academic study of his work, the comments and articles in the blog will be rather more speculative, exploratory and possibly personal. I add to the blog very slowly, and as it is far from topical and will only be minimally sequential, I hope that readers will feel able and welcome to respond to any post, whether it was nominally put up the day before or months or even years before. The blog is currently titled The Widening Gyre, even though that title has already been used quite a lot and I'm thinking about better alternatives, but the actual address is tied to this one: YeatsVision.blogspot.com.|
All the images and quotations used on these pages are believed to be used legitimately within the laws of copyright. If you notice any that are not, please contact me and they will be removed.
I would like to thank Professor Warwick Gould at the University of London’s Institute of English Studies for his encouragement in the creation of these pages, and Colin McDowell for his helpful comments on them.