«Rewording in melodious guile». W.B. Yeats’s “The Song of the Happy Shepherd” and its Evolution Towards a Musico-Literary Manifesto

cover SIJISEnrico Reggiani (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan)

Studi Irlandesi/A Journal of Irish Studies, vol. II, 2012, pp. 73-92 (ISSN 2239-3978 online)

ABSTRACT: This essay intends to explore how The Song of the Happy Shepherd elaborates on the notion of poetry asYeats as king goll song, to contextualize it against the background of its (para)textual history and evolution, and to emphasize its role as a musico-literary manifesto. Yeats’s Song can perform its variations on «the supreme theme of Art and Song» because its atavistically unifying “sooth” is inborn to the very substance and features of its tropical mediation between poetry and song, thus making it neither classically “cracked” (l. 9) – i.e.burst asunder, fractured – like the merely musical “tune that Chronos sings” (l. 9), nor romantically “primeval and wild” like “the Song of the Shepherd” in Thomas Moore’s To Joseph Atkinson, Esq. From Bermuda.

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