Yeats’s Tantric Synthesis
In his final decade, the poet William Butler Yeats embarked on several years of study and collaboration with Shri Purohit Swami, an Indian monk. Though their partnership chiefly led to English translations of the Upanishads and the Yoga Sūtras, Yeats found himself deeply attracted to Tantra. Having read some of Sir John Woodroffe’s texts, and having been instructed in Tantra by Purohit, he incorporated Tantric principles into his later work, including his 1937 revision of A Vision and several later poems. Just as he once wrote that Nietzsche completed Blake, Yeats found that Tantra completed Nietzsche, offering a vision of the cosmos that divinized the full range of human experience. This talk will address how Yeats’s fascinating, if often flawed and self-serving, poetic appropriation of Tantra informs some of his major late works.