BL. W. B. Yeats

92. Baird, James. Ishmael. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1956.

In a section on ‘Emotive Compulsion toward the Orient’ (pp. 68-73) in a larger discussion of literary primitivism, Baird offers brief but compelling remarks about Yeats and the nô. Yeats’s suggestion in introduction to Certain Noble Plays (11) that ‘it is now time to copy the East and live deliberately’, Baird finds, is a ‘judgment . . . most strange’, for the nô is among ‘the most highly sophisticated abstractions’ of Buddhism, and a European or American does not turn to it to ‘live deliberately’, but rather ‘with the emotive compulsion of a man seeking respite from himself’. Europeans and Americans who turn to the nô find in it ‘a way out of an endlessly intolerable self consciousness’ and ‘a genuine substitution for . . . lost sacrament’. Fenollosa knew this, Baird suggests, but ‘there is some question’ about whether Pound and Yeats did as well.





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