The poetry of W.B. Yeats is commonly seen as belonging to three rough phases. The first is a Romantic and pre-Raphaelite style of flowery verse which commonly invokes figures of Irish mythology. The second is a far more austere, realist approach with a nod to modernism, where Yeats is often concerned with the politics of Irish nationalism. The third is perhaps a fusion of the two, with the sensibilities of the latter being applied to the subjects of the former.

If you read Yeats the change in style between these three periods - especially between the first and second - is very striking. So much so that it made me wonder what Yeats felt about his earlier work as he matured. It is not uncommon for mature writers to renounce or even destroy work done in earlier years: Auden, Joyce, Kafka and Hardy all did, for example.

Indeed some of Yeats' middle period poems such as "A Coat" and "The Fisherman" read like a wilful repudiation of his early themes. However, I've been unable to unearth anything at all about this in browsing the internet. Did Yeats leave any opinions as to the value of his early romantic work?


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