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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.71 pp.83-102

The Philosophy of Lao-tzu in Yeats’s Late Poems

Haksun Han
Kyungnam University


The purpose of this paper is to examine Yeats’s late poems from the perspectives of the philosophy of Lao-tzu. The core of Lao-tzu’s philosophy is emptiness of mind and absolute nothing. First, this paper studies what Lao-tzu’s philosophy is and how it is related to Yeats’s late poems. Next, this study investigates the traces of Lao-tzu’s philosophy revealed in Yeats’s late poems, focusing on “The Wild Swans at Coole,” “The Double Vision of Michael Robartes” and “Long-legged Fly” which best reveal Lao-tzu’s philosophy. Finally, this study examines Lao-tzu’s philosophy contained in the inscription on Yeats’s tombstone. In conclusion, this study suggests that despite the fact that Yeats’s late poems were influenced by Eastern philosophy such as Zen, Yinyang, Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu, Yeats sublimated such ideas into his own philosophy, using concepts such as Gyre and Unity of Being.





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