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Writing Modern Ireland$
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Catherine E Paul

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780989082693

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780989082693.001.0001

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date: 18 January 2019

Yeats in Extremis

Yeats in Extremis

(p.1) Yeats in Extremis
Writing Modern Ireland

Ronald Schuchard

Liverpool University Press

This essay focuses on W. B. Yeats's thirty-five-year exploration of being in extremis, which for him was “not a bodily state of expiration but a joyous state…a single ecstatic moment when his final union with death occurred—a union that required a tremendous store of energy.” It examines Yeats's responses to the death processes of friends and connects these to Yeats's more fictionalized imaginings of the long preparation for death. To this end, the essay considers how Yeats actively began to stage the approaching personal drama in his poetry and plays, including The King's Threshold (1903) and In the Seven Woods (1903), and his last works before he died in 1939. It also discusses how Yeats, in so many of his last poems, resurrect personal, historical, and mythological memories of named and unnamed heroes and heroines of Ireland's past.

Keywords:   death, W. B. Yeats, in extremis, poetry, plays, The King's Threshold, In the Seven Woods, heroes, heroines, Ireland

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