"Haunted by Places": Landscape in Three Plays by W. B. Yeats


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

I am convinced that in two or three generations it will become generally known that the mechanical theory has no reality, that the natural and supernatural are knit together, that to escape a dangerous fanaticism we must study a new science; at that moment Europeans may find something attractive in a Christ posed against a background not of Judaism but of Druidism, not shut off in dead history, but flowing, concrete, phenomenal.-W. B. Yeats, Essays and Introductions (1937)

Three Yeats plays set out of doors, among his best, are precisely wedded to the landscapes-sacred wells and ruin-that he attributes to them: At the Hawk's Well (1916), The Cat and the Moon (1917),1 and The Dreaming of the Bones (1919). In this essay, I examine the sites and their attendant myths in relation to the plays. Finally, I argue for the importance of landscape in Yeats's plays not merely as source but as substance. I show the relationship between the realistic settings in the plays, the supernatural they also represent, and Yeats's dramatic form.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.