Thomas Doty – Storyteller


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Yeats and Spenser, Reality and Mythology

Is there a fine line between an artist's life and his art, or perhaps no line at all?

So often when I read W. B. Yeats, I feel he is writing to me, or about me. Here Yeats is relating Edmund Spenser's grief over the love of his life marrying someone else: "Spenser lamented her for years, in verses so full of disguise that one cannot say if his lamentations come out of a broken heart or are but a useful movement in the elaborate ritual of his poetry, a well-ordered incident in the mythology of his imagination."

This settles close enough to my heart that were Yeats here, I would suggest to him that perhaps both were true. Spenser, living his days and nights in a full-sensory marriage of life and art, didn't know the difference. At their deepest levels, where so many truths are revealed, and where their expressions are the most poetical, reality and mythology are truly the same.