Often, when beginning a book, especially an historical novel, an author has in mind hoping to have certain characters play a prominent role. Last week I wrote about the way I was able to insert Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into the novel. This week it is the poet William Butler Yeats. My first encounter with Yeats’ poetry was in a survey of modern British literature. I “discovered” a meaning beyond the poem’s surface when I studied, on my own, his poem “Leda and the Swan.” Then I took a graduate course in Yeats with the scholar Leonard Unger and did my Ph.D. dissertation under his direction in a facet of Yeats’ poetry and thought. So I dearly hoped to find a way to include him in the mystical novel, St. George, the Angel of Mons. It was my good fortune to find a connection between Yeats and the novel’s events. Yeats was for many years the leader of a branch of a mystical order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The actual origin of the legend of the Angel of Mon came about, not from the battlefield, but from a story written by Arthur Machen, a well-known writer of the time. As luck would have it, Machen was (at an earlier time) a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn. By juggling the chronology, making him a member at the time of the novel, I was able to involve Yeats in the story. When the book comes out you will discover a fantastic voyage between realms of reality that Yeats takes, an exciting, poetic, mystical read.
Question: If you read Yeats, what do you most appreciate about his poetry? Which of his poems do you best recall? Where do you rate his poetry among all the poets you have read?
Are you familiar with the lesser-known writer Arthur Machen? What is your view of his work? If you do not know his work, I think you will find it of interest, especially the story directly related to St. George, the Angel of Mons, The Bowmen and Other Legends of War. The work has recently been reprinted and is available on Amazon.