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Responsibilities

Responsibilities

yeats ‘the poems ‘to

a collection of poems by W. B. Yeats, published in 1914, which completes the gradual development away from the melancholy romanticism of the Celtic Twilight in his early work. The most striking advances are achieved in a group of poems placed near the opening of the book which include ‘To a Wealthy Man…’, ‘September 1913’, and ‘To a Shade’; these and others are remarkable for the combative directness of tone with which they denounce what yeats perceived as the debased attitudes prevailing among his contemporaries in Dublin. The emergence of a clear public voice anticipates much of his best work of the next decade, while ‘The Magi’ and ‘The Dolls’ are forerunners of his later philosophical poetry. Although Yeats's interest in Irish legend survives in pieces like ‘The Grey Rock’ and ‘The Two Kings’, his treatments of such material are stripped of the decorative and mysterious qualities that characterized much of his former work. With reference to ‘A Coat’, the volume's penultimate poem which rejects ‘embroideries | Out of old mythologies’, Louis MacNeice remarked that in Responsibilities Yeats ‘abdicates the throne of the twilight’. Among the factors leading to the changes of attitude and manner evident in the book was the disillusionment with the idea of a worthwhile national culture which resulted in part from his involvements with the Abbey Theatre. The stylistic chastening in Responsibilities is to some extent attributable to the influence of Ezra Pound; as Yeats's secretary in 1913, Pound argued for the concentration essential to his conceptions of Imagism and was instrumental in effecting revisions to certain poems.

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