The falcon, the beast and the image: Dante's Geryon and W. B. Yeats' The second coming Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Cane, David
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
  • The following study aims to fill a void in Yeatsian scholarship by investigating the under-analyzed link between William Butler Yeats’ late poetic production and the work of the medieval Florentine poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), focusing primarily but not exclusively on Yeats’ poem The Second Coming. An overview of Yeats’ reception of Dante’s literary corpus highlights a constant and constantly increasing interest in the Florentine poet’s work on the part of the Irish writer. Close attention is paid to the role of Dante in Yeats’ problematic esoteric volume A Vision, both as a ‘character’ within the work itself and as a shaping force behind the famous ‘system’ which the work outlines, and which serves as the theoretical/ideological backbone for all of Yeats’ successive poetic output. Finally, this study attempts a detailed search for Dantean traces in The Second Coming, arguably Yeats’ most read poem and one that has been called an emblem and a microcosm of all his late poetry. An analysis of the passages from Inferno that serve as a backdrop for The Second Coming’s imagery reveals how this lyric incorporates Dantean elements to a far greater degree than has been observed to this point. Furthermore, a look at the poem’s process of revision reveals how the work, from the earliest manuscript drafts to the final version, was progressively brought closer to Dantean models and tones.
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  • In Copyright
  • Cervigni, Dino S.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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