Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jonathan Greenberg

Committee Member

Adam Rzepka

Committee Member

Jeffrey Miller


William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)--Criticism and interpretation, Philosophy in literature


This thesis examines the interplay of poetry and philosophy in the work of William Butler Yeats as it serves to ground a symbolic structure that challenges time. Yeats, like his contemporaries, was influenced by Walter Pater, who made it possible to articulate with passion a sense of being despite life’s tumult and upheaval, to instantiate and develop in a moment a complete, poetic soul. It is in this same spirit that, much later, Gaston Bachelard would approach poetic memory for its harmonizing value. The works of Pater and Bachelard thus ground a phenomenological reading of Yeats’s poetry, in particular “The Tower” and “Meditations in Time of Civil War,” that serve to better grasp the nature of Yeats’s endeavor to construct a symbolic system that is at once philosophical and actualizing. It is at this intersection of philosophy and poetry that the act of writing becomes an intervention against the notion of time and ultimately, the death of the poet.

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