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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.21 pp.55-85

A Poet’s Dream in The King’s Threshold

Yoon Kiho


W. B. Yeats began to write his works when Ireland was struggling for itsindependence from England. Young Yeats hoped to be a national poet and wasnaturally concerned about the future of his fatherland. The way Yeats chose for hiscountry was a cultural one, not a military or political one. He believed in the Irishpeople’s artistic sensibilities and believed that his country could be a healthier andbetter country than England through the ’Unity of Culture’.
Yeats was attracted to drama because of its usefulness as a public art. Hewanted to establish a national drama based on Irish folklore and myth. He believedthat drama could achieve or revive the ’Unity of Culture’ which he equated with thenational unity of Ireland. Yeats’s main idea was that to achieve ’Unity of Culture’,the support of common people for art would be essential. Yeats’s early play, TheKing’s Threshold shows the unity of the poet and common people well. The storyis based on an Irish myth. The king, a man of action, banishes Seanchan the poet,a man of words, from his court (affairs of state) and the poet choose to die on ahunger-strike for his rights in the court, that is, for the value of art in society. Thepoet works for the common people and expects their support, of which the king ismuch afraid. The King’s Threshold dramatizes the theme that concerned Yeats sodeeply, the role of art in society. And another main point of the play is that poetrytranscends politics. Yeats satirizes the defects and deficiencies of a society which nolonger recognizes the artist’s role. But the poet dies, and we are not shown anyeffect that his death may have had on either society or the individual. The modernIrish people were not what the young poet had expected. Though the young poet’sdream for the ’Unity of Culture’ may be naive, the play shows us Yeats’s view ofart and his belief in the poet’s role in society.

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