Fall 1989 • Vol. XI No. 4 NonfictionOctober 1, 1989 |

High Talk: The Voice from “The Tower”

By way of engaging some issues that rise up in the rich and complex world of Yeats's later poetry, particularly in the volume, The Tower (1928), I want you to listen to a voice: Locke sank into a swoon; The Garden died; God took the spinning-jenny Out of his side. (214) Succinct, authoritative, witty, and able to fuse myth with history: this is a compelling voice for any reader to confront. I use that verb advisedly; one feels that a slight sense of confrontation surrounds these proceedings. The next move, the poem's second half, confirms it. The voice shifts slightly, as if the speaker had overheard someone doubting, some historian or mythographer asking a little indignantly about the source for such gigantic assertions: Where got I that truth? Out of a medium's mouth, Out of nothing it came, Out of the forest loam, Out of dark night where lay The crowns of Ninevah. (214) So the voice claims a source that is both multiple and singular. It has four sources, or on

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