Date of revision. A thorough rewriting of WBY's poetic drama of 1899 (publ. 1900) took place in the summer and autumn of 1905. TSW had in fact been in a state of sporadic revision for a long time. When in 1903 Frank and William Fay began work on what they called a ‘Costume recital’ of the play, WBY was rapidly enlisted to answer a great many queries, practical and otherwise, relating to the planned performance (this did not in fact take place until early 1904, when the author was away on his American lecture tour). The poet dispatched one set of specific revisions to Frank Fay in mid-Apr. 1903 (CL 4, 1008–1009), and continued to think of amendments thereafter. In 1905, WBY was still wholly committed to TSW as a play for the stage. In achieving this, he initially worked with his theatrical patron Florence Farr [Florence Emery]. The poet gave Farr substantial control of both production and direction, and WBY – keen on learning experimentally for future revision – allowed her to stage a performance of the piece for Theosophical Society in Jun. 1905. On 30 May 1905, in the run-up to this, WBY wrote to JQ (CL 4, 103):

[. . .] Mrs Emery is to give a performance of ‘The Shadowy Waters’ for some Theosophists. I don't expect much success for the play which is hardly suitable for more than about 50 people who know my work well. I gave her leave as I want to try some experiments. I have written in several new passages and hope to use a harp made of dim glass and lighted from inside by electricity, so that the harp will seem to burn with supernatural fire. It is an effect Charles Ricketts suggested to me. I have also made some one or two other slight changes of an experimental nature. I want to get the three recent verse plays ‘The King's Threshold’, ‘Baile's Strand’ and ‘Shadowy Waters’ as perfect as revision after performance can make them.

That same day, WBY wrote to AG (CL 4, 106) of how ‘I have just completed the revision of ‘Shadowy Waters’’. In fact, such rewriting as had taken place was far from over at this point. In his Note on TSW in PSS, WBY mentioned the Jun. 1905 performance, and claimed that ‘I then completely rewrote [TSW]’. Plans for publication of TSW in its new form went ahead throughout 1905, and in Jul. WBY's agent, A.P. Watt, brokered a deal to take back both the rights and the plates and stock of the 1900 version, published by Hodder and Stoughton (CL 4, 132). On 15 Jul., WBY wrote from Coole to Farr that his further revision to TSW was in progress. In this letter, it seems that the idea of the work as a piece for the stage was still at the forefront of the poet's mind (CL 4, 133):

I am at work on Shadowy Waters changing it greatly, getting rid of needless symbols, making the people answer each other, and making the ground work simple and intelligible. I find I am enriching the poetry and the character of Forgael greatly in the process. I shall make it as strong a play as The King's Threshold and perhaps put it in rehearsal in Dublin again. I am surprised at the badness of a great deal of it in its present form.

A few days later, WBY again told Farr that ‘I am changing The Shadowy Waters on almost every page’ (CL 4, 134). By late Jul., WBY could report to A.H. Bullen that ‘I have practically rewritten The Shadowy Waters [. . .] I should say that another couple of weeks will suffice to get it and probably the rest of the material ready for the new book [P99–05]’ (CL 4, 139). On 3 Aug. Arthur Symons, too, was informed by WBY that ‘I am rewriting The Shadowy Waters, every word of it’ (CL 4, 144), and Bullen was told that ‘I am still going through that heavy marsh, The Shadowy Waters’ (CL 4, 148); by 13 Aug., Farr was being reassured that ‘Shadowy Waters is getting gradually finished’ (CL 4, 160). On 10 Sep., WBY told Arthur Symons how ‘You will hardly recognise’ TSW in its new version for the forthcoming P99–05; and reflecting on the lessons of revision, he wrote (CL 4, 176):

I have learned a great deal about poetry generally in the process, and one thing I am now quite sure of is that all of the finest poetry comes logically out of the fundamental action, and that the error of late periods like this is to believe that some things are inherently poetical, and to try to pull them on to the scene at every moment. It is just these seeming inherently poetical things that wear out. My Shadowy Waters was full of them, and the fundamental thinking was nothing, and that gave the whole poem an impression of weakness. There was no internal life pressing for expression through the characters.

And a week later, the poet found himself expanding such thoughts into what looks like something of an ars poetica, in writing to JQ (CL 4, 179):

I have altogether rewritten my Shadowy Waters. There is hardly a page of the old. The very temper of the thing is different. It is full of homely phrases and of the idiom of daily speech. I have made the sailors rough as sailors should be, characterised all the people more or less, and yet not lost any of my lyrical moments. It has become a simple passionate play, or at any rate it has a simple passionate story for the common sight-seer though it keep[s] something back for instructed eyes. I am now correcting the last few lines, and have very joyfully got ‘creaking shoes’ [‘creaky shoes’, 128] and ‘liquorice-root’ [116, removed by WBY after 1912] into what had been a very abstract passage. I believe more strongly every day that the element of strength in poetic language is common idiom, just as the element of strength in poetic construction is common passion.

Yet on 6 Oct., WBY told Florence Farr that ‘I am still in the abyss over Shadowy Waters, it is not yet finished’ (CL 4, 203), and by the end of the year the abyss had been crossed, while intensive work on another major part of the projected P99–05, the play On Baile's Strand, was waiting to be encountered on the other side.