Mystic Void in Yeats

Topics: William Butler Yeats, Mysticism, Poetry Pages: 13 (3773 words) Published: August 20, 2006
The Mystic Void

To create a mystic world in poetry is itself an art par excellence. To welcome and enrich the world of perfect extinction of personality in the form of void as a superior creative excellence is definitely more than mere excellence in the art of poetry. It is the ascent of excellence, indeed, the ascent of poetry and the poet.

Unlike any other mystic poet, W. B. Yeats enters into the world of mystic void when he is at his best in sonnets. As a matter of fact, the mystic aroma in his poetic creations finds its most serene and poignant efflorescence when he creates the mesmeric mystic void in his mature sonnets.

As a background to Yeats's earnestness in solemnly dealing with the world of void as a distinctive, superior and more appealing form of writing mystic poems, he was somewhat compelled by his personal life terribly disturbed by the agonies of illness and gradual but unavoidable loss of physical and mental strength and vigour. Yeats, at the age of sixty, smiles in agonies and anxieties so much so that he seeks perfection of his ‘life and work'. A Dialogue of Self and Soul is perhaps his first endeavour to enter into the world of mystic void with personified visions of Self and Soul well directed and well moulded in the dough of mystic void where he seeks deliverance from ‘the crime of death and birth': Why should the imagination of a man

Long past the prime remember things that are
Emblematical of love and war?
Think of ancestral night that can,
If but imagination scorn the earth
And intellect its wandering
To this and that and t'other thing,
Deliver from the crime of death and birth.
The presence of a certain pattern of morbidity was already there in Yeats's mind right from the early poetic contributions. In fact, the search for an endless world of void as a characteristic element of mystic nothingness began in 1889 when he was interested in his attempt for a certain revolt of the soul against the intellect and found some sort of repose and serenity in The Wanderings of Oisin: The wailing grew distant; I rode by the woods of the wrinkling bark, Where ever is murmurous dropping, old silence that one sound; For no live creatures live there, no weasels move in the dark; In a reverie forgetful of all things, over the bubbling ground.

And I rode by the plains of the sea's edge, where all is barren and grey, Grey sand on the green of the grasses and over dripping trees, Dripping and doubling landward, as though they would hasten away, Like an army of old men longing for rest from the moan of the seas.

And the winds made the sands on the sea's edge turning and turning go, As my mind made the names of the Fenians. Far from the hazel and oak, I rode away on the surges, where high as the saddle-bow,

Fled from underneath me, and round me, a wandering and milky smoke.

Long fled the foam-flakes around me, the winds fled out of the vast, Snatching the bird in secret; nor knew I embosomed apart,
When they froze the cloth on my body like armour riveted fast, For Remembrance, lifting her leanness, keened in the gates of my heart. Moreover, the mystic nothingness finds Oisin, the spokesperson of Yeats, wandering endlessly in ‘Caoilte, and Conan, and Bran, Sceolan, Lomair': Ah me! to be shaken with coughing and broken with old age and pain, Without laughter, a show unto children, alone with remembrance and fear; All emptied of purple hours as a beggar's cloak in the rain, As a hay-cock out on the flood, or a wolf sucked under a weir.

It were sad to gaze on the blessed and no man I loved of old there; I throw down a chain of small stones! when life in my body has ceased, I would go to Caoilte, and Conan, and Bran, Sceolan, Lomair, And dwell in the house of the Fenians, be they in flames or at feast.

Quite immersed in the infinite ocean of mysticism, Yeats, like Oisin, his created spokesperson, invites us to be experienced with his own viewpoint of mystic void –...
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