chapter  2
44 Pages

The Moon upon the Tide: Yeats and the Philosophy of Irish Fairylore

ByFrank Kinahan

W. B. Yeats's annotated anthology of Fairy and Folk Tales was shortly to be joined by his anthology of Irish Fairy Tales, and these two editions would in turn be joined by the varied tales that Yeats himself collected and published in his own The Celtic Twilight. In his early writings, Yeats was to echo the various basic accounts they had offered, and then to extend the philosophy of Irish fairylore by proffering a new and more sophisticated explanation of his own. Yeats listed his folklore "authorities" in the endnotes to Fairy and Folk Tales and Irish Fairy Tales, and the lists were long ones. Lady Wilde's remarks on glamouring provide a background against which an early Yeats poem like "The Stolen Child" may be re-examined with happy results, but a confused background it is. In 1889 Yeats claimed to have read "most, if not all" of the recorded Irish fairytales that had been translated into English.