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Yeats's Mask

 | 
Margaret Mills Harper
, 
Warwick Gould

Yeats’s mask

The Mask of A Vision

Neil Mann

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  • 1 ‘A Vision’, The Irish Statesman, 13 February 1926, 714-16, reprinted in CH 269-73. See also http:/ (...)
  • 2 Letter, 9 February 1918, NLI 30,563, cited Ann Saddlemyer, Becoming George: The Life of Mrs W. B. (...)

1In his review of the first edition of A Vision AE found it ‘so concentrated, the thought which in other writers would be expanded into volumes, is here continually reduced to bare essences’, and indeed establishing a clear idea about any element of the System often entails teasing out the implications from ‘its crammed pages’ and gathering together comments scattered throughout the volume.1 On the one hand a clear understanding of even the key concepts is difficult to achieve, while on the other hand any understanding involves a whole context of other elements, linked in turn to other aspects of the System so that the connecting threads recede indefinitely; as Yeats commented in a letter to Iseult Gonne: ‘I wish I could tell you what has come but it is all so vast & one part depends upon another’.2 Consequently, even a relatively straightforward term that underwent no major revisions, such as the Mask, remains elusive both at its core and in its ramifications.

  • 3 ‘Yeats’s Mysticism’, review of A Vision, The Cambridge Review, 19 November 1937, 113.
  • 4 It is, of course, a peculiar clock-face, with two hands going clockwise and two anti-clockwise, on (...)
  • 5 Brian Arkins’s comment that ‘antithetical people are driven to create a vibrant anti-self or Mask, (...)

2Jacob Bronowski notes that Yeats’s ‘poems are often hard to understand: because Yeats masks his thought, which has changed a good deal, under images which he has never changed’,3 and the mask itself is one of these images. It had first emerged in Yeats’s writing in the 1900s as a metaphor linked to ideas about personality and theatre, which Yeats went on to mould into a vivid symbol at the centre of his myth of self, anti-self and creation, notably in Per Amica Silentia Lunae and its prologue, ‘Ego Dominus Tuus’. The Mask that appears in A Vision, however, seems to have dwindled into a cipher circling the clock-face of the lunar phases along with the other Faculties, its function delimited by the System's geometry.4 It retains enough of its former traits to give a sense of A Visions continuity with Yeats’s previous thought but is at root a different concept. Though this leaves much room for confusion and ambiguity,5 the Masks importance lies precisely in this continuity, as well as its role within the psyche described by the Faculties. Of all the elements within the system of A Vision (except perhaps the Daimon, with which it is vitally linked), the Mask defined for Yeats his own concept of the artistic self and creative imagination, as well as determining the nature of emotion and the poetic process.

  • 6 It is hard to overstate the dualism within the construct of A Vision. In personal terms, the prima (...)

3The ‘mask' appears to have entered the Automatic Script on 21 December 1917, some two months after it had begun (YVP1 161ff). Its synonym ‘persona' had already figured in terms that were soon abandoned (‘Persona Artificans’, ‘Mala Persona’ and ‘Evil Persona’, as well as the more enduring ‘Persona of Fate’), but this session's treatment of the mask was different and contributed a large amount to its final formulation. In Per Amica Silentia Lunae, the ‘mask' had been oriented specifically towards the artistic or heroic, but was now defined as a universal attribute: ‘it is nothing to do with any form of artistic or practical genius', concerning ‘life and not creation – it is a figure of destiny’ (YVP1 161), yet in Yeats’s treatment of it in A Vision, the earlier narrative of poet-hero remains important. The distinction between fate and destiny, chance and choice, became part of the central dichotomy of the System, dividing human existence into primary and antithetical Tinctures. The duality of fate and destiny is represented in the individual psyche by two of the Faculties: the externalised ‘Persona of Fate’, later renamed Body of Fate, ‘which comes from without, whereas the Mask is predestined, Destiny being that which comes to us from within’ (AVB 86; cf. CW13 16; AVA 15).6 The destiny from within, found in the Mask, is most important to antithetical incarnations; it characterises the hero and the artist, those who had taken up the carven mask in Per Amica Silentia Lunae and who remain vital archetypes of antithetical humanity.

  • 7 A Vision A states that ‘the Four Faculties constitute the Tinctures’ (CW13 15; AVA 14) but the hig (...)

4As the full scheme of the Faculties emerged and was put into place, Mask and Body of Fate took their place as the targets or objects of two ‘active’ Faculties (AVB 73), Will and Creative Mind. Together Will and Mask ‘constitute’ the antithetical Tincture, while Creative Mind and Body of Fate ‘constitute’' the primary Tincture. These intrinsic identities never change, although each Faculty may fall anywhere within the cycle of antithetical and primary at a given point (CW13 15; AVA 14; cf. AVB 73).7 Of these Four Faculties, the Mask is the most distinctive element of the Yeatses’ anatomy of the psyche and least easily grasped and, within the longer sketches of the ‘Twenty-Eight Embodiments’ (AVA) or ‘Twenty-Eight Incarnations’ (AVB), it is often the Mask that is the Faculty that contributes most the overall picture, in a way that is linked to its vital role as the focus of the Will and in the formation of the artistic personality, which is often the focus of Yeats’s analysis.

  • 8 Yeats had rejected the automatic script’s Ego, because it seemed to suggest ‘the total man who is (...)
  • 9 Most of the material in AVA’s section ‘The Daimon, the Sexes, Unity of Being, Natural and Supernat (...)

5Though the Faculties cannot be taken separately, it is one of the frustrations of Yeats’s presentation (especially in A Vision B) that he gives so little sense of their roles and nature for readers to grasp as they accustom themselves to his terminology and schemata. As usual, the following summaries rely mainly on Yeats’s own (relatively few) words, but try to draw out a few implications. As the key Faculty, ‘Man’s root’ (CW13 15n; AVA 14n), Will is perhaps surprisingly primitive: practical survival instinct, 'everything that we call utility’ (AVB 83), the soul’s ‘energy, or will, or bias’ (AVB 171; CW13 85; AVA 105), and individuating self.8 It is a basic life force, without which the others have no sphere of operation, but in itself little more than ‘a mechanism to prolong existence’ (AVB 195), at the core of being, but in the sense of process rather than essence, which resides in the Principles. It is feeling, almost desire, but ‘feeling that has not become desire because there is no object to desire; a bias by which the soul is classified and its phase fixed but which as yet is without result in action; an energy as yet uninfluenced by thought, action, or emotion; the first matter of a certain personality-choice’ (CW13 15; AVA 14-15; cf. AVB 73). Creative Mind is more sophisticated but also simpler, representing the ‘intellect’ (AVB 85) or ‘Knower’ (AVB 73), an active apprehension containing ‘all the universals’ (AVB 86) or ‘all the mind that is consciously constructive’ (CW13 15; AVA 15), sometimes ‘better described as imagination’ (AVB 142; CW13 64; AVA 76). Will therefore is instinct with the ‘complexities of mire or blood’ (VP 498; CW1 252), while Creative Mind looks towards ‘pure mind’ (VP 630; CW1 356) or ‘unageing intellect’ (VP 407; CW1 197); though less obviously energetic than Will, Creative Mind is still a driving force to exploration and understanding. The Faculties that are the ‘targets’ of these two energies are harder to appreciate as part of the psyche itself, since they are generally projected. In the case of Body of Fate this projection is outwards into the external world to make what is ‘Known’ by the mind (AVB 73), ‘the sum ... of fact, fact as it affects a particular man’ (AVB 82) or ‘the physical and mental environment, the changing human body, the stream of Phenomena as this affects a particular individual, all that is forced upon us from without, Time as it affects sensation’ (CW13 15; AVA 15). In the phrase about Will above, ‘an energy as yet uninfluenced by thought, action, or emotion’, thought refers to Creative Mind and emotion to the Mask, and in many ways Body of Fate is action, since fact is the necessary sphere of action. Though the Mask projected as well, it is more subjective and intangible, the ‘object of desire or moral ideal’ and ‘idea of the good’ (AVB 83), ‘he image of what we wish to become, or of that to which we give our reverence’ (CW13 15; AVA 15), ‘the Ought (or that which should be)’ (AVB 73), and ‘in the antithetical phases beauty’ (AVB 192). It is chosen but involuntary, taking ‘a form selected instinctively for those emotional associations which come out of the dark, and this form is itself set before us by accident, or swims up from the dark portion of the mind’ (CW13 24; AVA 27), so that it is the object of willed choice but comes before us without conscious selection.9 It is intrinsically at the limit of reach, ‘that object of desire or moral ideal which is of all possible things the most difficult’ (AVB 83), and vulnerable to chance and external reality. Uniquely, it also sometimes has a secondary form, ‘the Image', which is externalised and slightly more easily grasped: ‘a myth, a woman, a landscape, or anything whatsoever that is an external expression of the Mask' (AVB 107). The motive force of the Will gains direction from the Mask, while the motive force of the Creative Mind is directed towards the Body of Fate. Yeats gives an analogy of the Will looking with desire into the Mask as ‘into a painted picture' focused on ‘few objects', while cold-eyed ‘Creative Mind looks into a photograph’, contemplating a crowded jumble (AVB 86; CW13 15-16; AVA 15). The photograph's randomness recognisably represents fate’s imposed chance, but the painting must be conceived of as an icon that catches the imagination almost to the point of obsession, one that has been found but then chosen and adopted, or repeatedly recreated by the artist. Both Mask and Body of Fate represent truth that is apprehended by its active counterpart, but the Mask represents the truth of sincerity, personal truth, whereas the Body of Fate represents the truth of reality, factual truth.

6The Faculties cannot, however, be taken individually, since they always work in concert. Despite or because of the fact that the Will is the most basic element within the psyche, it is Will’s bias in a given incarnation as either primary or antithetical that determines what A Vision posits as the aim in life, and as a consequence the role of all the Faculties, including the Mask. They are related through an inevitable pattern, as the various notes of the musical key are fixed by intervals to the tonic, which gives the key its name, without determining the music or musicality of what follows. The fundamental principle behind the goal of life is somewhat hidden in a dry formula within rebarbative lists of rules, though also referred to throughout ‘The Twenty-Eight Incarnations’:

In an antithetical phase the being seeks by the help of the Creative Mind to deliver the Mask from Body of Fate.
In a primary phase the being seeks by help of the Body of Fate to deliver the Creative Mind from the Mask(AVB 91; CW13 20; AVA 21).

7In an antithetical incarnation the being, expressed in the Will, should try to liberate the Mask’s self-made ideals and sense of inner truth, from the claims of the factual reality of Body of Fate, by the help of the Creative Mind’s sense of the universal and its realism: ‘Only by the pursuit or acceptance of [the Will’s] direct opposite, that object of desire or moral ideal which is of all possible things the most difficult [i.e. the Mask], and by forcing that form upon the Body of Fate, can it attain self-knowledge and expression’ (AVB 83). In contrast, in a primary incarnation the being should strive to liberate its intellect's sense of universal values and apprehension of objective truth (Creative Mind), from self-made fantasies of the Mask, through the help of external reality (Body of Fate). Yeats gives no general gloss of this, but the soul’s return to primary values at Phase 22 indicates how he understands it:

the aim must be to use the Body of Fate to deliver the Creative Mind from the Mask ... The being [i.e. Will] does this by so using the intellect [CM] upon the facts of the world [BoF] that the last vestige of personality [antithetical Mask] disappears. The Will, engaged in its last struggle with external fact (Body of Fate), must submit, until it sees itself as inseparable from nature perceived as fact, and it must see itself as merged into that nature through the Mask ... (AVB 158; CW13 75; AVA 92)

8The Will is still made manifest through the Mask and uses it, but because primary Will seeks a relationship to the world, it must conform to that order rather than try to impose itself upon it, so that now external reality rather than personal energy tests and shows what is true. Desire for the Mask and therefore self-expression is only appropriate when the Will is in the antithetical phases, so ‘In the primary phases man must cease to desire the Mask and Image by ceasing from self-expression, and substitute a motive of service for that of self-expression’ (AVB 84; CW13 18; AVA 18) and in order to seek the world it must subordinate any subjective inner voice to factual reality.

  • 10 See ‘Personality and the Intellectual Essences’ (1906; CW4 195; E&I 266). In the lecture ‘Friends (...)
  • 11 The Image is not defined in AVA and the clarifying sentence about its nature was added to the deli (...)
  • 12 Yeats writes of how ‘The being [Will], through the intellect [Creative Mind], selects some object (...)

9The primary person’s Mask should be an inherited norm and taken as offered, termed ‘enforced’, and its relationship to the Will is ‘character’. For antithetical phases, however, the Mask is ‘voluntary’ or ‘free’ (AVB 84-85; CW13 18; AVA 18), producing ‘personality’ - a term that Yeats had long linked to energy.10 Recalling the hero in the grove at Dodona (CW5 11; Myth 335), the antithetical person ought to ‘carve out and wear the ... free Mask and so to protect and to deliver the Image’ (AVB 120; CW13 46; AVA 53). This last term, the ‘Image is a myth, a woman, a landscape, or anything whatsoever that is an external expression of the Mask’ (AVB 107) projecting it objectively or in a complementary way, as the Mask of the antithetical person is in a primary or objective phase.11 For Yeats’s own Phase 17, for example, the ‘Mask may represent intellectual or sexual passion; seem some Ahasuerus or Athanase; be the gaunt Dante of the Divine Comedy; its corresponding Image may be Shelley’s Venus Urania, Dante’s Beatrice, or even the Great Yellow Rose of the Paradiso’ (AVB 141; cf. CW13 63; AVA 76). This distinction intimates that Yeats’s Mask is characteristically represented in a hungry wanderer such as Aengus or Forgael, with its 'Image' in such figures as the Rose or Maud Gonne, the ‘glimmering girl I With apple blossom in her hair’ (VP 149-50; CW1 56).12 The Mask still recognisably retains something of the earlier conception as reflected in 'Ego Dominus Tuus’, where Ille suggests that the gaunt Dante’s ‘hollow face’ was hollowed by ‘A hunger for the apple on the bough I Most out of reach? ’ and found not self but ‘unpersuadable justice’ and ‘The most exalted lady loved by man’ (VP 368–69; CW1 162), what ought to be and the ideal vision of the beloved. This suggests that in his own mind, and in particular when thinking of his own phase, Yeats used some of the more mythic elements of his earlier thought, vivifying the dry bones in his own imagination.

  • 13 The Vision of Evil is attained at the Full Moon, so not attainable for a writer such as Keats, who (...)

10Yeats also claims in ‘Hodos Chameliontos’ that in ‘great lesser writers like Landor and like Keats we are shown that Image and that Mask as something set apart; Andromeda and her Perseus – though not the sea-dragon’ (CW3 217; Au 273), indicating that, in their projection of the Image as Andromeda and the Mask as Perseus, these artists cannot quite compass the fullness of the conflict, the Vision of Evil, that marks the greater writers, who through suffering and ‘through passion become conjoint to their buried selves, turn all to Mask and Image, and so be phantoms in their own eyes’ (CW3 217; Au 273).13 This buried self, ‘that age-long memoried self’, is the Daimon, and ‘genius is a crisis that joins that buried self for certain moments to our trivial daily mind’ (CW3 216–17; Au 272).

  • 14 In a draft, c.1927, Yeats writes that ‘Though for the purposes of exposition we shall separate dai (...)
  • 15 This seems to have come from the Instructors: ‘Elder’, for example, ‘complained of my identifying (...)

11To some extent Mask and Daimon can be identified, though the two versions of A Vision offer slightly s of how far this identification can be taken. In A Vision A, Yeats writes of the human being‘s Mask as the Daimon’s Will and vice versa (also the human Body of Fate the Daimon’s Creative Mind), making human and Daimon complementary halves of a single entity, or the same being viewed from two distinct perspectives and reflected through a mirror (CW13 24–27; AVA 26–30).14 He also imagines that the Daimon – and Mask – must be pursued in antithetical phases, but fled in primary phases, and in many ways the symbol more vivid when the pursuer or pursued is represented as another being. However, it is probable Yeats decided that this conception was too schematic in its treatment of the Daimon,15 and it is removed from A Vision B, though he does retain the important analogy of the Daimon as the stage-manager of a Commedia dell’Arte troupe, giving ‘a Mask or role’ to his actor (AVB 83-84; cf. CW13 17-18; AVA 17-18) and it is clear that he continued to the think of the Mask as crucial in connecting with the Daimon, and to favour the metaphor of drama.

12When writers such as Dante and Villon give themselves completely to their role and ‘turn all to Mask and Image’:

The two halves of their nature are so completely joined that they seem to labour for their objects, and yet to desire whatever happens, being at the same instant predestinate and free, creation’s very self. We gaze at such men in awe, because we gaze not at a work of art, but at the re-creation of man through that art ... (CW5 217; Au 273).

  • 16 The exact meaning is ambiguous, since Yeats is writing largely without the terminology of A Vision (...)
  • 17 The Second Collect of Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer opens ‘O God, who art the author (...)

13The ‘two halves’ refer primarily to human and Daimon-Mask, with the destiny of the Mask overlapping with the freedom of individual Will.16 Yeats obviously wished to place himself into such company, and A Vision is both a claim for his inclusion and an attempt to find a path to this goal. Much of the early automatic script revolves around the nature of genius, and it is clear that an important part of the whole project was to provide a scaffolding for Yeats to achieve his genius, or as much as his belated century would allow: ‘I wished for a system of thought that would leave my imagination free to create as it chose and yet make all that it created, or could create, part of the one history and that the soul’s. The Greeks certainly had such a system, and Dante ... and I think no man since’ (CW13 liv–lv; AVA xi). The Unity of Culture that had been possible to the classical Greeks or Dante was no longer available to Yeats, but he could attain Unity of Being (considered in Section III), and A Vision effectively lays claim to this unity, but more importantly provides support for Yeats, explaining Yeats’s genius to himself and providing directions for how to re-create the poet through his art, to tap into the sources of inspiration. For the predestined artist, joined to his buried self, the Daimon flows through him and all that his imagination can create must necessarily express the soul’s history, since service of the Daimon is perfect antithetical freedom, in a twist on the traditional prayer.17 Though the ‘primary is that which serves, the antithetical is that which creates’ (AVB 85; CW13 19; AVA 19), in the antithetical ideal, represented by Dante, the intellect ‘served the Mask alone’ and ‘compelled even those things that opposed it to serve’ the Mask and Daimonic art (AVB 144; CW13 65; AVA 78).

14The intellect’s service is important, since it indicates the other Faculty that is particularly important to creativity: Creative Mind, which had originally been named ‘Creative Genius’ in the Automatic Script (cf. CW13 14; AVA 14). The Mask’s role in poetry is rooted in its nature as the focus of emotion and, for the antithetical, the locus of objects of desire, the target that turns the feeling of Will into desire. Further refinements of its inter-relations with the other Faculties indicate how poetry formed under the influence of Creative Mind makes the Image an ‘abstract’ universal representative, the Rose, and when the Mask alone dominates it is the idealised, far-off, unattainable Rose. If Will predominates it is ‘sensuous’ and related to self, my Rose; for Yeats it is seldom the concrete, particular flower, a rose, brought by Body of Fate’s influence (viz. AVB 87; CW13 16; AVA 15-16).

  • 18 Her phase was given on 2 January 1918 (YVP1 189) and she is included under the head of ‘some beaut (...)
  • 19 See Lucy Shephard Kalogera, ‘Yeats’s Celtic Mysteries’ (PhD dissertation, Florida State Universtiy (...)
  • 20 Yeats also implies that the soul may have particular memories of the incarnation when the Will was (...)
  • 21 In a note added in 1926, Yeats added ‘There is a form of Mask or Image that comes from life and is (...)

15Though the Rose or Maud Gonne may embody the Image for Yeats, his Mask is not placed with Maud Gonne at Phase 16, a phase of beauty,18 but directly opposite the Will at Phase 3, in ‘a phase of perfect bodily sanity’ (AVB 108; CW13 37; AVA 41). For the poet of ‘the fantastic Phase 17, the man of this phase [3] becomes an Image where simplicity and intensity are united, he seems to move among yellowing corn or under overhanging grapes’ giving ‘to Shelley his wandering lovers and sages, and to Theocritus all his flocks and pastures’, and to Yeats, perhaps, his perception of the Irish country people and the world of The Celtic Twilight, fairyland, the rituals of the Castle of Heroes Mysteries,19 the idyll imagined for his daughter, living ‘like some green laurel I Rooted in one dear perpetual place’ (VP 405; CW1 191), and such poems as ‘The Song of the Happy Shepherd’ or ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’. In writing of how Phase 3’s ‘seasonal change and bodily sanity seem images of lasting passion and the body’s beauty’ to the poet of opposite phase (AVB 109; CW13 37; AVA 42), Yeats may also be looking to works such as ‘To a Child dancing in the Wind’, ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ and ‘The Fisherman’, even forward to ‘In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz’ or the final stanza of ‘Among School Children’.20 These do not represent the objective world of Phase 3 itself, but the subjective image of these states, transmuted by desire. The Will of those at Phase 17 is complex and seeks to synthesise, making for ‘partisans, propagandists and gregarious’ people, the Mask is one of ‘simplification, which holds up before them the solitary life of hunters and of fishers and “the groves pale passion loves”, they hate parties, crowds, propaganda’ (AVB 143; CW13 64; AVA 77). Yeats also sometimes rejects that country where the young lovers and animals are caught in the ‘sensual music’ of the natural world’s rhythms and the crowded fields and seas (VP 407; CW1 197), and the vision is that of the colder eye: ‘as I look backward upon my own writing, I take pleasure alone in those verses where it seems to me I have found something hard and cold, some articulation of the Image which is the opposite of all that I am in my daily life, and all that my country is’ (CW3 218; Au 274). The Image here takes on more of the cold hardness that truly belongs to the objectivity of Phase 3. Though opposite, the Mask and Image are also integral, part of the make-up, and though chosen, ‘man or nation can no more make this Mask or Image than the seed can be made by the soil into which it is cast’ (CW3 218; Au 274).21 Thus the antithetical free Mask may be carved out and worn, but the predestined raw material must be given (cf. AVB 120; CW13 46; AVA 53).

16It is a paradox that in antithetical phases where the Mask is to be desired, it is actually placed at a primary phase with primary unifying force and objectivity, while the primary person’s deluding Mask is located in subjective phases. However, the Mask is not simply drawn from the opposite phase, as the object of desire it is coloured by the desire, derived from the Will’s energy, in an alchemy of transmutation: for example, Phase 19’s Conviction is ‘derived from a Mask of the [primary] first quarter antithetically transformed’ (AVB 148; cf. CW13 68; AVA 83) and is called the ‘antithetical Mask’ (AVB 150; CW13 70; AVA 84). Phase 10’s ‘stony Mask’ is similarly ‘Phase 24 “The end of ambition” antithetically perceived’ (AVB 123; CW13 49; AVA 57). The process of the transformation is indicated more clearly perhaps by Phase 13, which desires to ‘become its opposite and receive from the Mask (Phase 27), which is at the phase of the Saint, a virginal purity of emotion’ (AVB 129; CW13 54-55; AVA 64): the quality of purity remains, however it affects not Phase 27’s spirituality but the emotion of Phase 13’s sensuous Will, giving ‘not self-denial but expression for expression’s sake’.

17The keywords and descriptions for the Masks of each phase reveal that in most cases the Masks of opposite phases are facets of a central idea, one directed outwards towards the world and the other directed reflexively to self or expression. The Mask of Phase 2, ‘The Player on Pan’s Pipes’ is an external form of the idyll that becomes ‘Illusion’ in Phase 16. Phase 3’s 'Innocence' is simplicity towards the world, in contrast to Phase 17’s simplicity directed towards self and self-expression, ‘Simplification through intensity’. The ‘Passion’ which is the Mask of Phase 4 becomes reflexive in the ‘Intensity through emotion’ of Phase 18. Phase 5’s ‘Excess’ tests limits in worldly terms, while Phase 19’s ‘Conviction’ ‘passes from emphasis to emphasis’ (AVB 148; CW13 68; AVA 82). The ‘Justice’ of Phase 6’s Mask contains the social form of law and necessity which the ‘Fatalism’ of Phase 20’s Mask focuses inward. The ‘Altruism’ of Phase 7 shares with the ‘Self-analysis’ of Phase 21 a quality of detachment and standing apart from self, overcoming self-interest in a social context or simply self-immersion in terms of reflection. Disregard for self is perhaps also evident in the clearer forms of ‘Courage’, Phase 8, and ‘Self-immolation’, Phase 22, though these are phases of transition from one Tincture to the other. The clarity that, in terms of antithetical expression, gives ‘Facility’ to Phase 9’s Mask takes more inclusive and public form, in terms of primary thought, in the ‘Wisdom’ of Phase 23. Elements of this clarity, together with self-sufficiency, are evident in the ‘Organisation’ that characterises the Mask of Phase 10 and the ‘Self-reliance’ of Phase 24, the codifier. A further element of stripping things to essentials, even exclusion, is seen in the ‘Rejection’ of Savonarola’s phase, 11, and the ‘Consciousness of self' which is the Mask of Luther or Calvin's phase, 25, which ‘creates a system of belief, just as Phase 24 creates a code, to exclude all that is too difficult for dolt or knave’ (AVB 125; CW13 50; AVA 58). The hero of Phase 12 projects self with energy in ‘Self-exaggeration’ as the hunchback of Phase 26 projects his faults and self in pitiless clarity by dominating ‘Self-realisation’. Phase 13’s ‘Self-expression’ can enable ‘complete intellectual unity’ of emotion and the self (AVB 129; CW13 54; AVA 64), as Phase 27’s domination of the Mask, ‘Renunciation’, enables ‘the total life, expressed in its humanity, to flow in upon him and to express itself through his acts and thoughts’ (AVB 180; CW13 92; AVA 114). The quiet of Phase 14’s Mask, ‘Serenity’, becomes featureless absence in Phase 28’s ‘Oblivion’.

18Though these categories and characteristics are only directly relevant within the system of A Vision itself, they show more generally a pattern of mirroring and reflection, with the primary and antithetical Tinctures throwing their own cast on a central core.

  • 22 The most obvious case of all is that of Phases 12 and 26 where the False Mask is ‘Self-abandonment (...)
  • 23 See Ellmann’s notes of an interview with George Yeats on 17 January 1947: ‘Free will in Vision - t (...)

19Comparison of the tables shows that the pattern of polarity with the False Masks is similar, generally a distortion or perversion of the True Masks, though sometimes also a denial, if the person lives ‘out of phase’.22 Indeed Yeats starts a good number of the descriptions of the phases by describing misdirected lives, especially in the earlier phases of the Wheel where there are fewer famous examples. The primary man who ‘desires the Mask’ instead of the Creative Mind thereby ‘permits’ the Mask to dominate, so that he ‘gives himself to’ the False Mask (AVB 106; CW13 35; AVA 39). This implies a kind of abandonment or weakness but also a choice, and indeed George Yeats viewed it as part of the space for free will within the System.23 The other temptation is that of copying the opposite phase, so that the person seeks to live in the phase of the Mask and effectively mistakes Mask and Will. The unified antithetical poet may live in the Mask in the sense of expressing it through his creation, but here the Mask is transmuted subjectively; the primary person should not seek the sincerity of the Mask, but the reality of fact. An example of this for Yeats is George Russell (AE), whose ‘visionary painting' is derivative of other men, and ‘like many of his “visions”, an attempt to live in the Mask, caused by critical ideas founded upon antithetical art’ (AVB 176; CW13 88; AVA 109). For Yeats, Russell's true calling was found in ‘his practical work as a co-operative organiser’ where ‘he finds precise ideas and sincere emotion in the expression of conviction. He has learned practically, but not theoretically, that he must fly the Mask’ (AVB 176; CW13 88-89; AVA 109). Too much association with antithetical artists misled Russell into desiring the Mask of pantheistic Phase 11, even perhaps seeing himself as a Spinoza rather than a George Herbert.

  • 24 ‘The Twenty-Eight Incarnations’ in AVB gives some 37 artists (33 writers), 11 thinkers or religiou (...)
  • 25 It is one of the paradoxes of Yeats’s perception that the poet of ‘Song of Myself’ expresses not s (...)

20Russell is part of a relatively small group of artists who are primary rather than antithetical, since most writers are antithetical expressers of their self, creators and originators (and most of the examples that Yeats gives in A Vision are writers of some kind).24 In Yeats’s conception what is expressed by primary writers (when ‘in phase') is not self but the ideas of the collective, whether race, society or religion; having accepted the enforced, ‘imitative Mask’, it ‘may become the historical norm, or an image of mankind’ (AVB 84; CW13 18; AVA 18), so that the primary writer serves as a voice for others, for a group or tradition, rather than creating. These writers include friends and collaborators such as Synge and Lady Gregory as well as Russell, and others such as George Herbert, Whitman and Dumas.25 Yeats puts himself towards one end of an artistic spectrum with the creators of inner landscapes who ‘in assuming the Mask’ assume ‘an intensity which is ... always lyrical and personal, and this intensity, though always a deliberate assumption, is to others but the charm of the being’ (AVB 141–42; CW13 63; AVA 76), the tension should appear effortless and the value lies in sincerity, winning the audience by the strength of the voice. At the other end stand those who create convincing representations of the world, whose value is tested by the audience's recognition of their creation, their truth to reality. Beyond these come those whose impulse is too much towards reality to be concerned with artistic expression. Similarly also, Yeats views tragedy as centred on the subjective passion of its people, so antithetical, whereas for him comedy is based on manners and behaviour, so primary.

  • 26 Significantly also, ‘At Phase 15 and Phase 1 occurs what is called the interchange of the tincture (...)
  • 27 This note from the preparatory card-file (M7) is more succinct than anything in A Vision itself, b (...)
  • 28 The first session of the Automatic Script about the Mask already described the second quarter’s Ma (...)

21Whitman (6) and Dumas (7) are however very different from Synge (23), Gregory (24) and Russell (25), and with either Tincture the two different quarters are distinct and the distinction affects the Mask.26 This is especially true of the primary Tincture, where one quarter is at the beginning of the cycle and the other at the end. The first quarter, where Will predominates, is considered to identify with the external world in a more ‘innocent' and spontaneous way, engaging with the natural world of things with ‘Instinctive' Will and conforming to it through the ‘Convention or systematization' of the Mask (AVB 103; CW13 32; AVA 36). The fourth quarter, where Body of Fate predominates, is far more ideological, looking to structures and order, and the ‘Moral’ Will engages with the world ‘aware of ... a supersensual environment of the soul’ (AVB 18; CW13 92; AVA 114), drawing on the Mask's ‘Tolerance' to accept all (AVB 103; CW13 32; AVA 36). In the first quarter the delusion or lure of the Mask, which must be eliminated, ‘takes [the] form of opinion', while in the fourth quarter ‘it is [the] remaining personal element: it is the departure from conformity still possible to the ego [Will]’ (YVP3 334),27 which Yeats explains as the ‘natural self, which [the person] must escape’ (AVB 169; CW13 84; AVA 102). In contrast, the two antithetical quarters are continuous, though the second quarter, where the Mask itself predominates, is centred on self and emotion, whereas after the Full Moon Creative Mind predominates, so the third quarter is directed towards the mind and thought, and increasingly outwards. The Mask in both quarters is free and should be sought, but in the second quarter it ‘reveals’ the self and in the third ‘conceals’ it. Before the Full Moon it ‘is described as a “revelation” because through it the being obtains knowledge of itself, sees itself in personality’ (AVB 85; CW13 18; AVA 19), as the emotional Will gains ‘Self-analysis’ from the Mask drawn from the moral fourth quarter (AVB 103; CW13 32; AVA 36) and turns inwards more as it approaches the Full Moon. The third quarter’s Mask is ‘a “concealment”, for the being grows incoherent, vague and broken, as its intellect (Creative Mind) is more and more concerned with objects that have no relation to its unity but a relation to the unity of society or of material things, known through the Body of Fate. It adopts a personality which it more and more casts outward, more and more dramatises’ (AVB 85; CW13 18; AVA 19).28 The intellectual Will hides its lack of self-sufficiency behind the Mask’s ‘Intensity’ (AVB 103; CW13 32; AVA 36), thus Yeats sees himself as being drawn to concerns outside the purely personal and more generally to theatre, but needing to focus on the Mask to centre the self and to conceal the lack of coherence within, hammering his intellect’s ‘thoughts into unity’ (‘If I were Four-and-Twenty’, CW5 34; Ex 263).

  • 29 Yeats may have conceived of a possible form of unity for each quarter: a Unity with God’ at Phase (...)
  • 30 In the last quarter’s most primary phases we approach the spiritual essences that lie behind creat (...)

22In A Vision A Yeats considers several forms of unity in the section ‘The Daimon, the Sexes, Unity of Being, Natural and Supernatural Unity’ (CW13 24ff; AVA 26ff), as the title indicates: Unity of Being centred on the Mask, objective, Unity with Nature, and a supernatural Unity with God.29 A Vision B mentions only Unity of Being, to focus all attention on ‘the unity of man not of God, and therefore of the antithetical tincture’ (AVB 258) most possible at Yeats’s own phase. This is not just self-serving, since it is also probable that, as his understanding of the Principles developed, Yeats came to see that Unity with God and Nature were not internal, centred unities, but rather unions with something outside the ‘being’ defined by the Faculties (see AVB 86). As expressed in A Vision B, it is ), and that the Faculties’ very weakness that enables the action of the Principles, which are normally submerged during waking life, and brings the soul closer to objective reality.30

  • 31 AVA does not specify antithetical, just ‘the Mash is described…’ (CW13 18; AVA 18)
  • 32 This unity has much of the ‘delight in the whole man – blood, imagination, intellect, running toge (...)

23In the later formulation of A Vision B, during the incarnate life of ‘the Faculties the sole activity and the sole unity is natural or lunar’, so that, although there is a primary form where ‘that unity is moral’ (not spiritual), this natural unity is effectively an antithetical goal: ‘All unity is from the Mash and the antithetical Mash31 is described in the automatic script as a “form created by passion to unite us to ourselves”, the self so sought is that Unity of Being compared by Dante in the Convito to that of “a perfectly proportioned human body”’ (AVB 82).32 However, since this unity is reserved for Yeats and his near kin (Phases 16, 17 and 18), the majority of antithetical phases have no chance of it, and even at Phase 17, the most promising, success is far from assured. In the end, the importance of this unity for Yeats is the context in which it places his own artistic creation and ‘genius’. Phase 17 ‘is called the Daimonic man because Unity of Being, and consequent expression of Daimonic thought, is now more easy than at any other phase’ (AVB 141; CW13 63; AVA 75), and this contact with the Daimon is of course attained through the Mask.

  • 33 He writes of the Daimons in The Trembling of the Veil as ‘Gates and Gate-keepers, because through (...)

24As mentioned earlier, in A Vision A, the human Mask is seen as the Daimon’s Will, while the human Body of Fate is the Daimon’s Creative Mind and vice versa, but the idea is dropped from A Vision B. Whether this complementary reversal is applied or not, Body of Fate and Mask express chance and choice, Fate and Destiny, and the latter in particular orchestrated by the Daimon. The Mask may be chosen, but the choice is offered by the Daimon, a task-master with ‘but one purpose, to bring their chosen man to the greatest obstacle he may confront without despair’ (CW3 217; Au 272) and there are no alternatives, only refusal of experience. Indeed for Yeats not only is theatrical tragedy intrinsically antithetical, but antithetical destiny is intrinsically tragic: ‘We begin to live when we have conceived life as tragedy’ (CW3 163; Au 189).33 However, once the experience is put within the aesthetic frame, it can be viewed as we view the tragedy of Lear or Hamlet, and this is the perspective that the Daimon has of human life. Actors must ‘not break up their lines to weep. ǀ They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay; ǀ Gaiety transfiguring all that dread’ (VP565; CW1 300), and onlookers ‘laugh in tragic joy’ (VP 564; CW1 300) as they observe the passing of an old order. The Daimonic perspective implies a strange detachment from life together with total engagement, yet this may in part be the purpose of ‘The Mirror of Angels and Men’ (Speculum Angelorum et Hominum), A Vision’s fictional precursor, and is central to Yeats’s aestheticised morality and ‘explanation of life’ declared on the title page of A Vision A (CW13 [li]; AVA [iii]).

  • 34 The operation and relation between these two elements is condensed to a few ‘crammed pages’ (see e (...)
  • 35 The Automatic Script and notebooks contain many further subtleties and details that Yeats excluded (...)
  • 36 This is the Beatitude or Marriage (AVB 232), in one sense at least ‘the hymen of the soul’ (CW5 9; (...)

25Which of fate or destiny, primary or antithetical, Body of Fate or Mask, predominates depends ultimately on the Daimon and the Principles.34 In A Vision A the Principles are seen as corresponding to the various Faculties (CW13 119; AVA 146) but, by the stage of A Vision B, they are seen as their origin, ‘the innate ground of the Faculties’ (AVB 187).35 Though there is no starting point in the cyclical process described within A Vision, the fourth stage of the after-life is perhaps the closest to such a point, when the solar Principles, Spirit and Celestial Body ‘are one and there is only Spirit; pure mind, containing within itself pure truth [Celestial Body], that which depends only upon itself’ (AVB 188-89).36 At the following stage two lunar Principles, ‘a new Husk and Passionate Body take the place of the old; made from the old, yet, as it were, pure’ (AVB 233). These Four Principles are in turn transferred or reflected into the Faculties, though when or how is never explicit (AVB 187).

  • 37 NLI 30,359, c.1927, [18]. This is related to the complex concept of the Ghostly Self (see AVB 22, (...)
  • 38 NLI 13,581 (Rapallo Notebook D), 24 recto, c.1929. Cf. NLI 30,280, given by Virginia Moore, The Un (...)

26The Passionate Body gives rise to the Mask, and indeed Yeats shows how closely the two were fused in his thinking when he pairs ‘the new Husk and Mask, a slip for Husk and Passionate Body (AVB 233). The Mask as the ‘voluntary and acquired’ counterpart of the Passionate Body ‘must act ... in the same way’ towards Will as Passionate Body does towards Husk (AVB 187). This bond is one of hunger, a metaphor that underlies much of Yeats’s spiritual economy: Will and Husk derive from a hunger to perceive others and Mask and Passionate Body come from those others, conceived as a single, internalised focus. The hunger belongs to the Daimon rather than the human being, but in this context the Daimon should be seen as the human’s ‘ultimate self’ (AVB 83), as ‘what in a man personally is unique is from the daimon’.37 All of our experience derives ultimately from other beings and from modes of perception, which Yeats summarises aphoristically in the ‘Seven Propositions’: ‘Reality is a timeless & spaceless community of Spirits which perceive each other. Each Spirit is determined by & determines those it perceives, and each Spirit is unique’.38

  • 39 NLI 30,359, c.1927, [18].
  • 40 Yeats had problems reconciling uniqueness and perfection in the Daimon: in an altercation with the (...)
  • 41 Elsewhere the Mask is also expressed as the Daimon’s memory of past exaltation (AVB 83), but this (...)
  • 42 Considering ‘the Four Principles in the sphere’ (AVB 193–95), Yeats identifies the Daimons with Pl (...)

27In drafts Yeats notes that the ‘daimon seeks to unite itself now with one now with another daimon but can only do so through the human mind, for without the human mind it has neither reflection nor memory’.39 The Daimon seeks in other Daimons a form of completion, what it lacks in itself,40 which is expressed in human life through the Passionate Body-Mask and makes the Mask the incarnate expression of the object of Daimonic desire ‘to make apparent to itself certain Daimons’ (AVB 189), connecting it to the community beyond self, the ‘world’.41 Without Daimonic hunger, Husk-Will, and its object, Passionate Body-Mask, the immortal Principles would be isolated and unable to develop: Celestial Body would be shut up within itself, since the Spirit actively pursues knowledge but appears incapable of perception on its own and needs the ‘other’ that is brought by the sensuous Husk and Passionate Body. Therefore these lunar Principles are remade for each incarnation and ‘prevail during life’ (AVB 188) so that the Passionate Body ‘may “save the Celestial Body from solitude”’ (AVB 189). Incarnate life is inherently antithetical, ruled by these lunar Principles which express Daimonic hunger, and the antithetical incarnations are doubly so, as Passionate Body-Mask dominate, giving a life of destiny where the human ‘acts in spite of reason’ (AVB 190).42 In contrast, in primary incarnations the Daimon is subordinated to the rational Spirit which finds its goal, and the Principles’ unity, in Celestial Body (AVB 188), and is mirrored in the Great Wheel by the Creative Mind’s increasing attachment ‘to Body of Fate until mind ... can create no more’ and the soul is moulded to the truth of ‘“the spirits at one”’ (AVB 189), a phrase that comprehends both the spirits’ phase, the New Moon or Phase One, and their being at one with external reality, sinking back towards ‘the mass where we begin’ (AVB 72).

28In A Vision Yeats puts aside the goals of almost all spiritual systems, whether conventional or esoteric, where union with God is the highest end, offering as summum bonum a personal Unity of Being, ‘the unity of man not of God’ (AVB 258). This is not a union with something greater beyond the self, but a unity within the self, a form of balance between all the Faculties. It is arises out of the tension of full awareness and ‘constantly renewed choice’ (AVB 84; CW13 18; AVA 18), from ‘a being which only exists with extreme effort, when his muscles are as it were all taut and all his energies active’ (AVB 84; cf. CW13 18; AVA 18), and in A Vision A he explicitly declares that ‘Much of what follows will be a definition or description of this deeper being, which may become the unity described by Dante in the Convito (CW13 18; AVA 18). Thus ‘All unity is from the Mask (AVB 82), which is the ‘form created by passion to unite us to ourselves’ (AVB 82; CW13 18; AVA 18), and ‘passion’ here is the Passionate Body and to a lesser degree the hunger of the Husk-Will. Though it is an antithetical goal only, it lies at the heart of the reason for incarnation, saving the Celestial Body from solitude, so that for Yeats it becomes the human goal.

  • 43 Yeats explains this earlier in the treatment of Phase 17 in a description of the substitutions inv (...)
  • 44 The obfuscation caused by the quotation from Leopardi and the criticism of Pound’s translation alm (...)

29The intellect of Dante and, by extension, of Yeats’s ideal self-perception, ‘served the Mask alone’, and ‘suffering injustice and the loss of Beatrice’ in reality, ‘found divine justice and the heavenly Beatrice’ in poetic vision (AVB 144; CW13 65; AVA 78).43 In A Packet for Ezra Pound, Yeats comments that “concord” ... persuades me that he has best imagined reality who has best imagined justice’ (PEP 33),44 and the imagination of justice is the apprehension of the ‘Ought’ of the Mask, while reality is the Body of Fate, apprehended or imagined by the Creative Mind. At its highest the vision of justice, found in the Mask, is inextricable from the vision of reality, so that choice and chance are united, the Mask’s beauty is united to the Celestial Body’s truth or the reality of its counterpart, Body of Fate.

  • 45 Unpublished part of the diary of 1930, NLI 30,354 [19].

30The Mask is central therefore to Yeats’s conception of self, imagination and art, and to allowing him to find space for humanity in the universe. Though it rightly only dominates in antithetical incarnations, in some senses incarnation itself is antithetical, and as such it defines ‘the antithetical human race. We are who we are because of the assertion of our subjectivity’,45 and that assertion is through the Mask.

Notes

1 ‘A Vision’, The Irish Statesman, 13 February 1926, 714-16, reprinted in CH 269-73. See also http://www.YeatsVision.com/Reviews.html (consulted December 2010).

2 Letter, 9 February 1918, NLI 30,563, cited Ann Saddlemyer, Becoming George: The Life of Mrs W. B. Yeats (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 151.

3 ‘Yeats’s Mysticism’, review of A Vision, The Cambridge Review, 19 November 1937, 113.

4 It is, of course, a peculiar clock-face, with two hands going clockwise and two anti-clockwise, one of which is the Mask.

5 Brian Arkins’s comment that ‘antithetical people are driven to create a vibrant anti-self or Mask, while primary people flee from the Mask and accept reality as it is’ (The Thought of W. B. Yeats, [Bern: Peter Lang, 2010], 5) shows both a perceptive sense of how the Mask of A Vision is connected with the earlier created mask, and also risks obscuring the meaning of ‘create' since the Mask will be there whatever, and the implications of the primary person’s fleeing the enforced Mask.

6 It is hard to overstate the dualism within the construct of A Vision. In personal terms, the primary Tincture includes the impulse to be part of a whole outside oneself and it stands against the antithetical urge to individualise and to assert one’s separateness. The objective or primary self looks outwards to ‘the world’: things, nature, other people, society, religion or God. The subjective or antithetical self looks inwards and seeks to express what it finds within itself or creates through imagination.

7 A Vision A states that ‘the Four Faculties constitute the Tinctures’ (CW13 15; AVA 14) but the higher levels are called Solar and Lunar: ‘the primary may be called Solar, the antithetical Lunar. The converse is not always true, for the Tinctures belong to a man's life while in the body, and Solar and Lunar may transcend that body’ (CW13 112; AVA 189). This distinction is not made explicitly in A Vision B.

8 Yeats had rejected the automatic script’s Ego, because it seemed to suggest ‘the total man who is all Four Faculties rather than one, his point of reference being the Theosophists’ use of Ego for the reincarnating high group of the human principles (closest to Yeats’s Spirit and Celestial Body), rather than Freud’s partial Ich, usually translated into English as Ego. Yeats also noted that ‘If Blake had not given “selfhood” a special meaning it might have served my turn’ (CW13 15n; AVA 14n).

9 Most of the material in AVA’s section ‘The Daimon, the Sexes, Unity of Being, Natural and Supernatural Unity’ (CW13 24ff; AVA 26ff) was omitted from AVB, and there are indications that Yeats rethought the ideas surrounding the Daimon especially (see below). However, though AVB must be taken as Yeats’s more considered presentation of the System, many of the formulations in AVA are helpful, consistent with the later version, and represent an important stage of Yeats’s understanding.

10 See ‘Personality and the Intellectual Essences’ (1906; CW4 195; E&I 266). In the lecture ‘Friends of My Youth’, he speaks of ‘this mysterious thing, personality, the mask, is created half consciously, half unconsciously, out of the passions, the circumstance of life. It is not the same as character’ (1910; YT 77).

11 The Image is not defined in AVA and the clarifying sentence about its nature was added to the delineation of Phase 2 in AVB. ‘Image’ is italicised in AVA but not in AVB. ‘Mash and Image’ are frequently mentioned as a pair (AVB 84, 122, 137, 142, 146, 153; CW13 18, 60, 64, 67, 71; AVA 18, 72, 77, 80, 87) and in AVA Yeats writes of the Image as a special version of the Mash: ‘By Mash is understood the image of what we wish to become, or of that to which we give our reverence. Under certain circumstances it is called the Image (CW13 15; AVA 15) and see the editors’ note CW13 235, n. 38. The Mash is the only Faculty to have such a secondary form.

12 Yeats writes of how ‘The being [Will], through the intellect [Creative Mind], selects some object of desire for the representation of the Mash as Image, some woman perhaps, and the Body of Fate snatches away the object’ which the Creative Mind, imagination, ‘must substitute some new image of desire’ (AVB 142; CW13 64; AVA 76).

13 The Vision of Evil is attained at the Full Moon, so not attainable for a writer such as Keats, who is placed at Phase 14, while Landor, from the Daimonic Phase 17 possessed it, ‘though not in any full measure’ (AVB 145; CW13 65; AVA 79). Elsewhere Yeats seems to allow it to Balzac (Phase 20) as well as Dante: ‘no man believes willingly in evil or in suffering. How much of the strength and weight of Dante and of Balzac comes from unwilling belief, from the lack of it how much of the rhetoric and vagueness of all Shelley that does not arise from personal feeling?’ (‘If I were Four and Twenty’, Explorations 277, cf. CW5 43-44).

14 In a draft, c.1927, Yeats writes that ‘Though for the purposes of exposition we shall separate daimon & man & give to man a different symbol, they are one continuous consciousness perception’ (NLI 30,359, [21]), but they are not a single being, so he may have shied away from the implication that is given in AVA.

15 This seems to have come from the Instructors: ‘Elder’, for example, ‘complained of my identifying the Daimon too exclusively with the anti-self, & even objected to my identifying it with the reversal of the Four Faculties, though he said that was, when properly understood, correct’ (YVP3 96; 4 September 1921) and in 1927 ‘Dionertes’ told him that he ‘must not say the Principles and Faculties expressed the daimons all man did was approach the daimon’ (NLI 30,359, [37-39]).

16 The exact meaning is ambiguous, since Yeats is writing largely without the terminology of A Vision, and could also indicate the Will-Mask axis together with the Creative Mind-Body of Fate, which together yield Unity of Being.

17 The Second Collect of Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer opens ‘O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom…’ Yeats’s Daimon is truly deus inversus, since it is the author of crisis and lover of conflict.

18 Her phase was given on 2 January 1918 (YVP1 189) and she is included under the head of ‘some beautiful women’ (AVB 137; CW13 60; AVA 71).

19 See Lucy Shephard Kalogera, ‘Yeats’s Celtic Mysteries’ (PhD dissertation, Florida State Universtiy, 1977 [UMI 77-22,121]), Appendix III, 157ff.

20 Yeats also implies that the soul may have particular memories of the incarnation when the Will was at this phase: ‘The past incarnations corresponding to his Four Faculties seem to accompany a living man' and may provide ‘an explanation of that emergence during vision of an old Cretan myth described in my book Autobiographies’ (AVB 229n), intimating a Theocritan past life of his own.

21 In a note added in 1926, Yeats added ‘There is a form of Mask or Image that comes from life and is fated, but there is a form that is chosen’ (CW3 469, n. 27; Au 274), pointing to the enforced primary Mask and the chosen antithetical Mask.

22 The most obvious case of all is that of Phases 12 and 26 where the False Mask is ‘Self-abandonment’ for both.

23 See Ellmann’s notes of an interview with George Yeats on 17 January 1947: ‘Free will in Vision - true and false masks – 13th cone’: see ‘“Gasping on the Strand”: Richard Ellmann’s W. B. Yeats Notebook‘, ed. Warwick Gould, YA16 279-361; 319.

24 ‘The Twenty-Eight Incarnations’ in AVB gives some 37 artists (33 writers), 11 thinkers or religious people (9 of them writers, if Socrates and Savonarola are excluded), 2 scientists (Paracelsus could be added), 3 political figures, 4 fictional characters, and a vague multitude of beautiful women. Excluding the last two groups, some 70% are artists and 79% writers, more if Darwin and Lamarck are counted as writers. Hazard Adams treats the same data slightly differently, and makes the point that ‘Yeats sees the writers in or as their work’, The Book of Yeats’s Vision: Romantic Modernism and Antithetical Tradition (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 88.

25 It is one of the paradoxes of Yeats’s perception that the poet of ‘Song of Myself’ expresses not self but ‘a product of democratic bonhomie, of schools, of colleges, of public discussion’ (AVB 114; CW13 41; AVA 47).

26 Significantly also, ‘At Phase 15 and Phase 1 occurs what is called the interchange of the tinctures, those thoughts, emotions, energies, which were primary before Phase 15 or Phase 1 are antithetical after, those that were antithetical are primary’ (AVB 89), so that ‘the old antithetical becomes the new primary’ (AVB 105).

27 This note from the preparatory card-file (M7) is more succinct than anything in A Vision itself, but the distinction is borne out by the treatment of the individual phases. The nature of the enforcement is also different in the two quarters: ‘Mask 1 to 8 enforced by ego [Will] it self. Mask 22 to 1 enforced by CG [Creative Mind]’, card-index (YVP3 334).

28 The first session of the Automatic Script about the Mask already described the second quarter’s Mask as ‘a form created to facilitate self expression’ and ‘a revelation of soul’, and the third quarter’s as ‘a form to conceal self & express only the objective however antithetical & subjective the nature is’ (YVP1 162)..

29 Yeats may have conceived of a possible form of unity for each quarter: a Unity with God’ at Phase 27 and a ‘Unity with Nature’ at Phase 3 (CW13 27; AVA 29), an ‘intellectual unity’ of Emotion at Phase 13 (CW13 54; AVA 64; AVB 129), a Unity of Being’ at Phase 17 (CW13 26; AVA28; cf. AVB 88 and CW13 63; AVA75; AVB 141). These four key phases are of course all related to each other, being the respective positions of the Four Faculties in any one of the phases. There is also a Unity of Fact’, mentioned in the context of Phase 22 and the turn towards the primary Tincture (AVB 162; CW13 78; AVA 95).

30 In the last quarter’s most primary phases we approach the spiritual essences that lie behind created life: ‘the Faculties wear away, grow transparent, and man may see himself as it were arrayed against the supersensual’ (AVB 86); AVAs Unity with God is viewed in AVB as a state in which ‘the Principles ... shine through’ (AVB 89). Yeats’s language echoes the Theosophists’ more conventional spirituality, which seeks ‘to so open up or make porous the lower nature that the spiritual nature may shine through it and become the guide and ruler’ (W. Q Judge, An Epitome of Theosophy, [Point Loma, CA: Theosophical Publishing Co., 1900], 12).

31 AVA does not specify antithetical, just ‘the Mash is described…’ (CW13 18; AVA 18)

32 This unity has much of the ‘delight in the whole man – blood, imagination, intellect, running together’ (‘Personality and the Intellectual Essences’, 1906; CW4 195; E&I 266) that had characterised his early understanding of personality, along with ‘active passionate life’ (‘Friends of My Youth’, 1910; YT 77).

33 He writes of the Daimons in The Trembling of the Veil as ‘Gates and Gate-keepers, because through their dramatic power they bring our souls to crisis, to Mask and Image, caring not a straw whether we be Juliet going to her wedding, or Cleopatra to her death; for in their eyes nothing has weight but passion’ or drama, ‘for it is only when the intellect has wrought the whole of life to drama, to crisis, that we may live for contemplation, and yet keep our intensity’ (CW3 217; Au 272). Such a marriage of contemplation and intensity is the portion of the third quarter in particular.

34 The operation and relation between these two elements is condensed to a few ‘crammed pages’ (see esp. AVB 83; 189-90) such as those that AE thought ‘would need a volume to elucidate’ (see n. 1). Here, though, I can only tease out a few points.

35 The Automatic Script and notebooks contain many further subtleties and details that Yeats excluded in his quest to simplify and clarify.

36 This is the Beatitude or Marriage (AVB 232), in one sense at least ‘the hymen of the soul’ (CW5 9; Myth 332).

37 NLI 30,359, c.1927, [18]. This is related to the complex concept of the Ghostly Self (see AVB 22, 193, 194, 211; YVP3 34).

38 NLI 13,581 (Rapallo Notebook D), 24 recto, c.1929. Cf. NLI 30,280, given by Virginia Moore, The Unicorn: W. B. Yeats’ Search for Reality (New York: Macmillan, 1954), 378-89; Richard Ellmann, The Identity of Yeats (1954; second edition London: Faber and Faber, 1964), 236-37; Hazard Adams, Blake and Yeats: The Contrary Vision, Cornell Studies in English 40 (1955; New York: Russell and Russell, 1968), 287-88. See also the largely identical ‘Six Propositions’ in a letter of October 1929, in Frank Pearce Sturm: His Life, Letters, and Collected Work, ed. R. Taylor (Urbana, Chicago and London: University of Illinois Press, 1969), 100–01. For dating and the relationship of the versions, see http://www.YeatsVision.com/7Propositions.html (consulted December 2009).

39 NLI 30,359, c.1927, [18].

40 Yeats had problems reconciling uniqueness and perfection in the Daimon: in an altercation with the instructor called Dionertes, ‘I said if they are different – there is something of the whole lacking in each & therefore it is not perfect. However he insisted.’ NLI 30,359, c.1927, leather notebook [37–39].

41 Elsewhere the Mask is also expressed as the Daimon’s memory of past exaltation (AVB 83), but this is better seen as the Daimon’s timelessness appearing as memory of past to the time-bound human.

42 Considering ‘the Four Principles in the sphere’ (AVB 193–95), Yeats identifies the Daimons with Plotinus’ ‘Third Authentic Existant or soul of the world’, which is ‘reflected first as sensation and its object (our Husk and Passionate Body) then as discursive reason (almost our Faculties)’, but is represented diagrammatically as reflecting into the antithetical Tincture, not the primary which is reflected from Spirit.

43 Yeats explains this earlier in the treatment of Phase 17 in a description of the substitutions involved for one who has achieved Unity of Being, taking himself together with Dante as hidden paradigms: ‘The being [Will], through the intellect [CM], selects some object of desire for a representation of the Mask as Image, some woman perhaps [Beatrice/Maud Gonne], and the Body of Fate snatches away the object. Then the intellect (Creative Mind), which in the most antithetical phases were better described as imagination, must substitute some new image of desire; and in the degree of its power and of its attainment of unity, relate that which is lost [Image], that which has snatched it away [BoF], to the new image of desire [Mask reflected in CM], that which threatens the new image to the being’s unity’ (AVB 142; CW13 64; AVA 76).

44 The obfuscation caused by the quotation from Leopardi and the criticism of Pound’s translation almost entirely distracts from the ostensible subject of the sentence, the ‘concord’ that unites or unifies humanity. Whether it is linked to ‘the concord of Empedocles’ (AVB 82; cf. AVB 67) is not addressed, though this concord exists only at the level of the Principles. A draft makes the philosophical links clearer: ‘The great tradition of philosophy, all the [illegible] speculation that descends from Plato & Hegel sets before us the certainty or probability – for Kant only offers us probability – that he who has best imagined justice has best imagined reality (NLI 30,757).

45 Unpublished part of the diary of 1930, NLI 30,354 [19].

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