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W. B. Yeats and William Blake in the 1890s
Jodie Marley

Yeats’s Blake criticism of the 1890s hinged on his knowledge of the esoteric and occult systems that he used as his framework for interpretation of the Romantic poet. This article examines The Works of William Blake: Poetic, Symbolic, and Critical (1893) and Yeats’s 1890s reviews of his contemporary Blake critics, as well as his relationship with the mystic poet and artist George William Russell (Æ), whom he repeatedly compared to Blake. Yeats’s emphasis on the importance of Boehme and Swedenborg in Blake’s system had a major influence on Blake’s critical legacy in the twentieth century, such as S. Foster Damon’s approach to Blake in William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols (1924) and Kathleen Raine’s Blake and Tradition (1969). Yeats’s engagement with Blake in the 1890s also contributed to the popular conception of Blake as a mystic and visionary artist which still continues.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library