Influence Of Influence On Yeats

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A poet is not always aware of all the sources that influence his poetry. Various experiences and fields of knowledge that he is familiar with, play upon his mind and form a new compound which hardly bears any resemblance to the original sources. A reader who feels that he has been able to trace the source is required to ascertain that the poet was in fact exposed to that source. An Indian critic or reader with his knowledge of and sympathy for Indian culture is more likely to be able to feel the Indian echoes. But he must look for support in Yeats’s autobiography or perhaps his biography, his letters or other writing. That Yeats was not only familiar but well versed with Indian philosophy is clearly proved by his letters and essays. Therefore…show more content…
He was not aware of the real India; perhaps he did not want to know the real India at all. His image of India never changed. It was essential for him to believe in India as a spiritual land just as it was useful for him to believe that the Irish peasants were in contact with the ancient gods. He did not allow anyone or anything to change his belief. Indians respond very warmly to Yeats and see a great deal of Indianness in him due to some quality in his works that accommodates and fuses apparently contradictory ideologies. Many studies have been made to trace the Indian influence on Yeats. Critics have taken pains through Yeats’s writing to look for the Indian elements. Many recurrent themes and images have been pointed out as of Indian origin. Kathleen Raine has suggested that the symbol of chest-nut tree in the poem ‘Among the School Children’ is borrowed from Kabir’s poems (Narasimhaiah 79). The book of Kabir’s poems translated into English by Tagore was among the books found in Yeats’s personal library. Kabir’s poem has the following lines:
The unconditioned is the
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“The disciple chooses the manifold fruits of life and tastes them while the Guru beholds him in joy” (TTPU 146). The Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagwad Gita and the poetry in the Bhakti tradition are all related to each other and share many ideas and images. Since Yeats was familiar with these sources, had also read books on Indian philosophy by writers like S. Radhakrishnan and Arthur Avalon’s books on Tantric philosophy, it is difficult to trace with certainty the original sources of the Indian element in Yeats. However some images clearly look derived from Kabir. Kathleen Raine has pointed out that Kabir’s bhajans were the sources of some of Yeats’s images. Shiro Naito in his book on Yeats and Zen records that when he met Kathleen Raine, he was given some important suggestions for his study and one of them was that the chest-nut tree of the poem ‘Among
School Children’ might have been derived from one of Kabir’s poem which Yeats read in Tagore’s translation.55 Raine herself records
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