BL. W. B. Yeats

24. The Cat and the Moon and Certain Poems. Dublin: Cuala, 1924.

Reprints Meditations in Time of Civil War (21).

  Reprinted in Wheels and Butterflies.  

a. The Cat and the Moon. A comedy about two beggars, one blind the other lame, which makes use of the techniques Yeats adapted from the nô for At the Hawk’s Well (12), and which Yeats himself thought of as a kyôgen (see b below). Wilson (102) argues that the play ‘follows the Noh rules closely’, and insofar as Yeats ‘deviates’ he ‘realised potentialities the Japanese drama had not explored, but which he saw as latent in their form’; Arnott (A44) finds the work ‘a virtually perfect Irish kyôgen’; Ellis (257, p. 255), Tsukimura (138), Genet (205b) and others suggest a source in Kikazuzatô, the only kyôgen among Fenollosa’s manuscripts, in which a blind man and a deaf man each discover ways to torment the other, though Taylor (180), who finds referents for each of the plays for dancers in a specific nô text (see 12, 14a-b, and 17a), mentions KikazuZatô but finds that the action of Yeats’s play ‘is not modelled on any particular Japanese text’. Dated 1917; first performed, in Dublin, in 1931. See also 35c, 48g, 151, 172, 185, 201, 211, and 248. Reprinted in 35.

b. ‘Notes [for The Cat and the Moon]’. Yeats explicitly ties the work to his understanding of kyôgen: ‘I intended my play to be what the Japanese call a “Kiogen,” and to come as a relaxation of attention between, let us say, “The Hawk’s Well” [12] and “The Dreaming of the Bones” [14a]’; he also had originally intended to include the work in Four Plays for Dancers (17), but did not because ‘it was in a different mood’. See also 203.





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