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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.33 pp.169-189

An Encounter with the Supernatural Being in Yeats's Poetry

Hong Ji Min


Building on the readings of Yeats’s esoteric poems and A Vision, I pose torethink the dimensions of his occultism, more specifically his reflection on anencounter with the supernatural beings. The need for rearticulation of the role ofrelation to the other gains urgency because the supernatural beings are by natureobscure, indistinct, and indefinite. They resist too much clarification anddetermination that may reduce their complicated and irreducible beings to distinctconcepts. The difficulty, therefore, lies in the question of how Yeats could presentthe beings in a manner as precise, proper, and rigorous as possible and at the sametime he could respect and honor the mode in which the beings conceals themselvesin the mystery, by letting them be the mystery that they are.
Applying the concept of “ecstasy” and “epiphany” to Yeats’s three poems, mypaper investigates how each poem reflects and illustrates the nature and thestructuality of “ecstasy” and “epiphany.”
In “The Double Vision of Michael Robartes” the girl dancing between a Sphinxand a Buddha in the fifteenth night is the anti-self of Yeats. In a moment the girl,the Sphinx, the Buddha and the poet himself had overthrown time in contemplation.They remain motionless in the contemplation of their real nature. when Robartesmeets the girl, he can be a totally subjective mind, overcome the illusion of duality,and find a “revelation of realty.” They finally all integrated into one and accomplishthe ultimate reality as a phaseless sphere. This poem Robartes shows how ecstasyor epiphany in an encounter with the supernatural being not only arises from thecontemplation of things vaster than the individual and imperfectly seen but alsoescapes from the barrenness and shallowness of a too conscious arrangement.
In the second section of “Vacillation,” Yeats presents a ritual ceremony inwhich “Attis’ image” is hung between the two parts, uniting death with eternal life,assuring immortality. He who performs this rite “May know not what he knows butknows not grief.” Yeats in his poetry consistently and repeatedly alludes to anancient sacrificial ritual and the imitations of ritual techniques through words andrhythms. For him, the ritual enacts an inner vision of permanent beauty andharmony and enables us to participate in the transcendental experience of a rite.Yeats often clearly sees and evokes the effects of sacrifice to ensure symbolize thetranscendental vision of whole beyond ordinary experience or expression.
Yeats showed Unity of Being in “Byzantium.” He attains the Ultimate Realitycompletely, in which subject and object are unified in the space without the time.He achieves the ultimate reality as an eternal instant. This ultimate reality is Yeats’sUnity of Being.

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