Yeats and Technology

            Daniel Albright, in his essay “Yeats and Modernism” explains that Yeats accuses Modernist poets for their “sloppiness of construction and flatness of diction” (63).  What might be of particular interest to us, in the literature and technology seminar, is that Yeats, as a symbolist,  “is always happier with symbols drawn from the traditional stock of conventions than with symbols drawn from modern life” (67). Yeats “purges his poetic vocabulary of technological words” because, for him, “symbolic value can be imparted only by age and long use-no word is fit for poetry unless your great-grandfather uttered it” (68).

 Despite Yeats’s vehement opposition to Modernism, however, Albright cites instances where “the modern world imprints itself upon his work” (68).  A “canceled passage from” Yeats’s “‘Under Ben Bulben’” makes use of the technological term “aeroplane” (69).   Thus, Albright argues, that while “Yeats fights Modernism as hard as he can” he “finds himself acknowledging that he is Modernist to the marrow of his bones” (75).  However, “this paradox is itself typical, for the Modernist often travels a road as far as it will go, only to wind up in some exactly opposite place” (75). 

Albright, Daniel. “Yeats and Modernism.” The Cambridge Companion to W. B. Yeats. By Marjorie Howes. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ., 2008. Print.

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