Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Richard Bizot

Second Advisor

Dr. Samuel Kimball

Third Advisor

Dr. William Slaughter


This study of the lyric poetry of William Butler Yeats concentrates on his ideas about nature and art, with a focus on the imagery of the wind. Though each of Yeats's poems may be read and enjoyed individually, a study of the body of Yeats's lyric poems gives the reader a better understanding of a symbol such as the wind. As a whole, the poems form a narrative of the development of Yeats's mind; by looking closely at the single symbol of the wind, we gain insight into the development of Yeats's ideas about art and nature. In Yeats's early poetry wind imagery, as well as other nature imagery, is prominent, but as Yeats's poetic career evolves, nature imagery--including that of the wind--becomes less frequent. By the last phase of Yeats's career, his source of inspiration has shifted from nature to art. Nature signifies change, but art for Yeats symbolizes the eternal and the unchanging. This paper explores Yeats's use of the wind as symbol including the shift in focus from nature to art.