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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.30 pp.131-163

Nietzsche’s Will to Power in Yeats

Lee So young


This paper aims to study Yeats and Nietzsche through Nietzsche’s “Will toPower” in some of Yeats’s poems. In 1902, Yeats first read Nietzsche’s works;through Nietzsche Yeats’s voice turned into a manly voice.
An internal conflict appears as a Mask theory in Yeats's poetry. Self andAnti-self (Mask) are two components in the Mask theory. While Will is an internaland subjective self, Mask is a social and objective self. The internal conflictsbetween Will and Mask determine the human mind. Yeats’s “Mask” and “EgoDominus Tuus” exemplify Will to Power as an internal conflict. Nietzsche’s Will toPower is a concept of quantity based upon the law of energy preservation refusingcausality, the movement ascending and descending and the eternal recurrence of thesame.
Similarly, Yeat in his A Vision has rewritten a European history based upon thetheory of opposite forces in a gyre. He classifies personalities into 28 types basedone phases of the moon. Assigned to Phase 12, the phase of heroic man whoovercomes himself, Nietzsche is a forerunner; who is fragmentary, violent, andsubjective.
Perspectivism, a kind of Will to Power, is a plural and relative point of viewthat is classified into 4 categories; Will to Power as knowledge ("Leda and theSwan"), art ("Ego Dominus Tuus"), love ("Crazy Jane Grown Old Looks at theDancers"), and truth ("Demon and Beast").
In conclusion, Yeats’s later poems achieve a creative and powerful voice whenhe thinks and speaks with Nietzsche; in particular, Nietzsche’s Will to Power, aphilosophy of Being and Becoming, is echoed in some of Yeats’s later poems.

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