For many years Kathleen Raine has been known as the leading exponent of what she herself calls ‘the learning of the imagination’ in the work of Blake, Yeats and other poets and scholars within (using the word in its broadest sense) the Platonic tradition. Yeats the Initiate contains all Dr Raine’s essays on Yeats, covering many aspects of the traditions and influences that informed his great poetry. Several of her essays in this field are already regarded as definitive evaluations of their subjects and these, with other hitherto uncollected studies and some new papers here printed for the first time, all fully illustrated and annotated, make Yeats the Initiate one of the most important publications of recent years in the field of Yeats studies.
The essays collected in Yeats the Initiate include ‘Hades Wrapped in Cloud’, a study of Yeats and the occult, Dr Raine’s introduction to Yeats’s collections published as Fairy and Folk Tales of Ireland, and three major studies previously published separately – Yeats, the Tarot and the Golden Dawn; From Blake to ‘A Vision’ and ‘Death-in-Life’ and ‘Life-in-Death’. A major paper on ‘Yeats on Kabir’ is printed for the first time, as is a topographical paper on the Sligo area in the West of Ireland. A long essay on Yeats’s debt to Blake has been extensively revised, and other topics discussed include the play Purgatory, Yeats’s contemporary, Æ (G.W.Russell, the visionary), and Kathleen Raine’s own poetic debt to Yeats.
The essays that make up this volume reflect a lifetime’s knowledge presented with the fine perception of a great poet. The many illustrations form a graphic accompaniment to the text. It is essential reading for all students of the life and work of William Butler Yeats.