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William Butler Yeats

            William Butler Yeats's creations have made him one of the most outstanding and most influential twentieth-century poets. Yeats was born in Dublin, Ireland. His father was a lawyer and a renown portrait painter. Clearly, art and creativity ran in the family. Yeats had an inventive and original style much like his fathers (Mooney, 1). At a young age, Yeats showed his interest in literature. He actively participated in societies that attempted an Irish literature revival. With Lady Gregory, William helped to found the Irish Theatre. While his plays usually refer to Irish legends, many also reflect his fascination with theology and spiritualism (Ellmam, 1). .
             Yeats's art and literature began to change over the years. It formed into a cryptic, flowing, and fixed style and structure. These newer plays were intended for a small audience and incorporated masks, dance, and music (Columbia Encyclopedia, 1). A significant influence on these types of plays was the "Japanese Noh" plays. Noh is one type of Japanese performing arts, which combines dance, music, poetry, and drama. Noh originated during the 14th century and is Japan's oldest traditional form of drama. The performances reflect upon the daily life of the Japanese. Noh is performed throughout Japan by professional actors, mostly men, who pass down the art to family members for generations. The performers wear unique classical costumes and masks called Noh-men (Hoffman, 1). One of the most common themes within Yeats's poetry was the exploration of cyclical theories of life, as seen in "The Winding Stair," where he creates a symbol of winding stairs (Columbia Encyclopedia, 1). Another example can be seen in "Second Coming," where Yeats states, "Turning and turning in the widening gyre." Other recurrent themes are the contrast of art and life, masks, theories of life, politics (mostly Irish), change, and the contrast between private and public life (O"Clair, 5).

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