BL. W. B. Yeats

58. ‘The Poet and the Actress. 1916’. In Clark (121), enlarged ed., 1993.

A prose dialogue between a verse dramatist and a successful modern actress. The former attempts to persuade the latter to cover ‘her expressive face with a mask’ for his new, anti-realistic, play. The work turns at important junctures to the nô as a paradigm, as in a passage in which the poet describes ‘the art [he] longs for’: It is ‘a battle [that] takes place in the depths of the soul, and one [of] the antagonists does not wear a shape known to the world or speak a mortal tongue. It is [a] struggle of a dream with the world. It is only possible when we transcend circumstance and ourselves, and the greater the contest the greater the art. We have to do with our selves what . . . Mr. Craig [ see D17] and the other craftsmen of the theatre are doing with the scene, or what the Japanese did centuries ago to scene and player alike. When the contest is deliberate we have a moral genius’..





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