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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: 21 May 2019

Mercury in Taurus: W. B. Yeats and Ted Hughes

Mercury in Taurus: W. B. Yeats and Ted Hughes

(p.216) Mercury in Taurus: W. B. Yeats and Ted Hughes
Writing Modern Ireland

Rand Brandes

Liverpool University Press

This essay examines W. B. Yeats's influence on Ted Hughes, who shared with the former a profound investment in esoteric realms, and Hughes's appropriation of Yeats. None of Yeats's successors have followed him with the discipline and determination of Hughes into the realms of the esoteric. Yeats's belief in the poetic and political power of magic, mysticism and the mythic gave Hughes the spirit confidence he needed to push through personal tragedy and global despair. Hughes's sensitivity to Yeats's work and workings is the result of a lifelong engagement with the poetry and the mythological as well as occult principles and practices that inform it. This essay considers the shared occult preoccupations of Hughes and Yeats and argues that it was Hughes's vision of Yeats as “a mystical warrior fighting for the soul of his nation” that led Hughes to conceive of himself as a poet, a figure that is not only creative but also magical.

Keywords:   poetry, W. B. Yeats, Ted Hughes, magic, mysticism, occult

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