Yeats, Occult, Golden Dawn, The Lake Isle of Innisfree


Yeats’ poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” contains occult symbols derived from Kabbalism, numerology, and tarot cards. Although the poem was published near the beginning of Yeats’ induction into Hermetic Society of the Golden Dawn, “Innisfree” demonstrates the magical prowess requisite to advance in the Society and thus further Yeats' ability to practice magic, for which he had an alleged natural ability. I assert that an understanding of Kabbalism, numerology, and tarot cards is essential not only in decoding the meanings behind “Innisfree” but in gauging Yeats’ own understanding of the Second Order of the Golden Dawn, which he was hopeful to join. D’Avanzo asserts the importance of the Kabbalah to Yeats as he wrote “Innisfree.” Normandin expresses interest in the bean-rows. However, neither of these critics explores the history and meanings of Kabbalism, numerology, and tarot cards and their relation to “Innisfree.” The symbols of the nine bean-rows, the Hermit, and the overall unification with nature assert Yeats’ magical abilities. Yeats and other fin-de-siècle poets found comfort in the occult during an era of shifting social structures; Yeats especially found his place as he ascended the ranks of the Golden Dawn.



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