The case of W.B. Yeats: Mind, Nation and Literary Landscape


  • Rosemarie Rowley Independent



Yeats, Mind, Platonism, Landscape, Nation, Occult


The emergence of the nation states was one of the fruits of Romanticism, and each reborn country needed to rediscover its identity: in Ireland, identity was very much tied to the landscape and what remained of the Irish language, place-names playing a special role in the evocation of national desires.  

A study of these key texts of Yeats’ shows how his dedication to the life of the mind   mirrored the loss of contact with the natural world.  This is true of its landscapes and its mythological figures.  I hope to show that in an early poem “The Song of Wandering Aengus” that in developing an antithetical self, Yeats was at significant times not only opposed to Nature intellectually and spiritually, but also emotionally. The privileging of the life of the mind over the animal self has played in his own life and in his influence what may have been a costly division.


 La aparición de los estados nación  fue uno de los frutos del Romanticismo, y cada país que renacía necesitaba redescubrir su identidad. En Irlanda, la identidad estaba muy ligada al paisaje y a lo que quedaba de la lengua irlandesa, por ello los topónimos desempeñaron un papel especial en la evocación de deseos nacionales.

  Un análisis de estos textos clave de Yeats muestra cómo su dedicación a la vida de la mente reflejaba la pérdida de contacto con el mundo natural. Esto es cierto en el caso de los paisajes y las figuras mitológicas. Espero mostrar que en uno de sus primeros poemas “La canción de Aengus el Errante” al desarrollar un ser antitético, en momentos significativos Yeats estaba no sólo opuesto a la Naturaleza intelectual y espiritualmente, sino también emocionalmente. Privilegiar la vida de la mente sobre el ser animal ha jugado en su propia vida y en su influencia lo que podría haber sido una división costosa.



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Author Biography

Rosemarie Rowley, Independent


Rosemarie Rowley was educated at Trinity College Dublin, where she published her first poems in the sixties, and she has degrees in Irish and English literature, and philosophy;  and a diploma in psychology.  She also holds a Master of Literature degree for her work on the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh.


Rosemarie  has published five books of poetry which include some of her long poems –she  has four times won the Epic award in the Scottish International Poetry Competition. 


In 2003 she co-edited, with John Haughton, an anthology of poems about trees Seeing the Wood and the Trees.


“ The Sea of Affliction” ((1987) one of the first works in eco-feminism, was written in the ‘sixties, and published later when Rosemarie worked as Coordinator for the emerging green movement in Ireland. The book is republished in 2010 by Rowan Tree Ireland Press, and can be accessed and downloaded from the Irish Literary Revival website, under a Creative Commons agreement at:



A selection of her poetry, including her book-length poem in terza rima, “Flight into Reality”  can be accessed at the University of Toronto’s “Representative Poetry Online” at:

Her account of her work in the early days of the Irish green movement can be accessed at:


Some of these items are linked in her web pages at:






Literary Landscapes and the National Imaginary