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Natural Image in Yeats's Early Poetry


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Natural Image in Yeats`s early poetry shows the relationship and tension between nature and consciousness. In Romantic poetry, natural image comes to be the most prominent dimension of the style. Natural image mediates between natural object and human consciousness and becomes an critical indicator of the problematic crisis related with the status of poetic language. Assuming the pantheistic nostalgia toward nature and the ontological primacy of the natural object, poetic consciousness compares poetic language to the natural object and desires to give poetic language the stability and substantiality of the natural object. However, poetic language which originates from nothingness differs from the natural object which is an epiphany, a natural emanation of a transcendental principle. Due to the ontological difference between them, poetic language fails to get the status of the natural object. The attempt to overcome the failure of the mimetic natural image leads to the self-conscious natural image. This conscious natural image belongs to the tradition of symbolism. Within the image nature and consciousness are mutually transformed and united. Now nature becomes the starting point and the mirror which reflects acts of consciousness. The self-reflective image is a reflection of consciousness which is reflected on the nature-as-mirror. It needs the natural object as its starting point and has no material substance; therefore, it fails to possess itself as its object and faces the narcissistic predicament in which consciousness is alienated from nature. Due to the intrinsic discrepancy of the natural image, the hope to unite nature and consciousness is frustrated. Consciousness still belongs to nature and poetic language becomes to face the crisis of sterility and extinction. This study considers the dialectic between nature and consciousness through the natural image of Yeats`s early poetry.


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  • 박선애 Park, Sunae. 부산대


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