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The Gyres: A New Beginning

Woo Cheol Hwan

Abstract

In 1938 Yeats had his New Poems (starting with “The Gyres”and ending with“Are You Content?”) published by Cuala Press. These poems were, however, mixedup with the real last poems written between January 1938 and January 1939 underthe heading of Last Poems and Plays published in 1940 to be incorporated in theCollected Poems of W.B.Yeats. This editorial work turned out to be ill-advised andunfortunate: Yeats's intention to make a new beginning with New Poems was, infact, obscured.
It is quite natural that one should consider “The Gyres,” the first poem of NewPoems suggestive of what the new start was and what change in his attitude ofmind toward life stimulated Yeats to do that. Yeats systematized what he hadlearned from his long involvement in various mystical activities in his own way inA Vision. He probably wished his statements in the book about man, and historywould be proved on the empirical level so that he might make confident poeticstatements of them. At this juncture he certainly experienced a kind of epiphany: heprobably attained to visionary insight that man, history and things are nothing butphenomena in flux. From this insight he gained two things: one was, as he said,nonchalance, that is, a detached attitude to life and things, the other was confidencein himself when making poetic statements out of anything. These two made his newbeginning possible. They are summed up in the expressions, “The Gyres! theGyres!”, “what matter?”, “tragic joy,” and “Rejoice.”

소용돌이(“The Gyres”): 새로운 출발*

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