Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


English Language and Literatures



First Advisor

Edward Madden


Yeats infuses his poetry, prose, and plays with elements of folklore, and the ancient stories are the seeds and roots for much of his work. He assumes his readers' facility with this material, which is credible, considering the wide-spread popularity of Ireland's iconic folklore. It is precisely that familiarity which Yeats exploits in his promotion of an Irish Literary Revival. Discovering a purpose and direction for his work in the late 1880's, Yeats hoped to produce a national and nationalistic literature which would emphasize the uniqueness of Irish culture: one that would pay homage to Ireland's noble past, while serving as a sentinel to its promising future. Yeats's political views changed with time and age and were undoubtedly influenced by his Anglo-Irish heritage and his relationships with revolutionaries. But he was consistently committed to Irish cultural independence, and it is that commitment which drove him to publish three volumes of folklore, numerous articles on the subject, and his own introductions to the tales and their tellers. He wrote hundreds of pages about Ireland's connections to folklore, and he spent much of his life crafting poems and plays born of the legends, tales, and myths. Writing as he did at a pivotal moment of Irish political history, he was attempting to revive the sense of wonder and pride that the Irish, suffocating under British imperialism, seemed to have lost.