Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis open access



First Advisor

David Rando

Second Advisor

Andrew Kraebel


It is a generally accepted truth that W.B. Yeats viewed his poetry as a part of his magical practice. His occult involvements are well-documented--he was a known member of the Theosophists, as well as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Yeats's written work also made this connection abundantly clear through essays, autobiographies, poems, and especially his metaphysical discourse, A Vision. However, Yeats scholars have done little more than accept this fact; that is, they have not analyzed how exactly Yeats viewed his poetry as incantation, or the possible mechanisms by which this relationship functions. Hence, I hope to fill that gap in the scholarship. I will first prove that Yeats did indeed view his poetry as incantation, before explaining one of his hallmark symbols from A Vision, the gyre. I will then use the gyre to explore how his epilogue to A Vision, "All Souls' Night," explores magical ideas without necessarily being outright incantation itself. I will furthermore demonstrate how "All Souls' Night" plants the seeds for the incantation in a truly incantatory poem, "Sailing to Byzantium." My thesis will culminate in my use of speech act theory as a tool to understand the mechanisms by which Yeats's "Sailing to Byzantium" works as an incantation.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License