"The books of my numberless dreams": a manuscript study of Yeats's "The Wind Among the Reeds" (Ireland)
In this dissertation I provide transcriptions of manuscripts, many previously unpublished, of the poems from William Butler Yeats's The Wind Among the Reeds (1899). The transcriptions are of manuscripts in the collection of Michael B. Yeats in Dalkey, Ireland, from the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, and elsewhere. After the transcriptions, which present the manuscripts poem by poem, I include three descriptive appendices, which provide additional information on the manuscripts according to their provenance. Three other appendices outline information on Yeats's title changes for the poems; on their order and placement in the published volumes; and on the dates of the earliest extant manuscripts and the printings of the poems prior to Wind I have prefaced the manuscript materials with four introductory essays. The first, on the reviews of Wind, focuses on the critical controversy over Yeats's copious and eccentric notes to the volume; it also discusses, generally, the relation between writer and audience, and, specifically, Yeats's attempt in the notes of Wind to annotate the self presented in the poems. The second essay deals with Yeats's manifold difficulties in preparing and publishing Wind, a process that extended over at least eight years, and with Yeats's relationships with Maud Gonne and Olivia Shakespear, the women who served as models for the 'Beloved' in various Wind poems. The third essay details Yeats's habits of composition, revision, and handwriting, as exhibited in the Wind manuscripts. The fourth traces the evolution of a representative Wind poem, 'He tells of the Perfect Beauty.'