Yeats Meets the Digital Age, Full of Passionate Intensity

Yeats_DigitalSO here, under airtight, light-shielding glass, is a notebook given to William Butler Yeats in 1908 by Maud Gonne, the beautiful, brainy feminist Irish revolutionary and object of Yeats’s infatuation across five decades, the muse — well, really, the furnace — for his poetry of yearning and his willing partner in what they called a mystical marriage. As far as actual marriage, Gonne became expert at wielding the word “no.”

Bound in white vellum, the notebook served as their metaphysical marital bed. Yeats used it to keep track of their shared fixation with the occult and each other. One morning in July 1908 Gonne wrote from Paris to report that she had been seized by a vision. “I had such a wonderful experience last night that I must know at once if it affected you & how?” she wrote. “At a quarter of 11 last night I put on this body & thought strongly of you & desired to go to you.”

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Filed under Biography, Study

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