Yeats and Nietzsche: An Exploration of Major Nietzschean by Otto Bohlmann

By Otto Bohlmann

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By Otto Bohlmann

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It was in dreams, says Lucretius, that the glorious divine figures first appeared to the souls of men' [BT(l) p. 33]. Ruling over this 'beautiful illusion of the inner world of fantasy' is Apollo [BT (l) p. 35], the embodiment of the 'joyous necessity of the dream experience'. And, Nietzsche adds, in one sense, we might apply to Apollo the words of Schopenhauer when he speaks of the man wrapped in the veil of maya (Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, 1, p. 416): ' ... ' [BT (l) pp. 35-6]. ) Strictly speaking, Nietzsche does not have any warrant for making Apollo the deity both of the plastic arts and of dream (though his reasoning is plausible), but- as we shall see - Yeats was none the less to follow him in regarding Apollo as god of both, and also as 'the glorious divine image of the principium individuationis' [BT (I) p.

Conflict, Will, Power 33 In 'The Spur' from the Last Poems we read You think it horrible that lust and rage Should dance attention upon my old age; They were not such a plague when I was young; What else have I to spur me into song? [CP, p. 1) p. 208]. Lust is the bridge between present and future, thirst for power propels the lofty from self-sufficient solitude to exercise command over the lowly and to initiate advance, and selfishness distinguishes what is good from what is worthless for the individual, stimulating self-rejoicing [cf.

42]. In Twilight of the Idols he affirms that 'Thucydides, and perhaps the Principe of Machiavelli, are related to me closely by their unconditional will not to deceive themselves, and to see reason in reality- not in "reason", still less in "morality" ' ['What I Owe to the Ancients' (2), TI, pp. 106-7]. Machiavelli might well, as has been suggested, have brought Cesare Borgia to the surface of Nietzsche's consciousness, with Nietzsche bringing him to the surface of Yeats's. When reading Nietzsche's description of Borgia as a 'beast of prey', 'man of prey' and 'tropical monster', would Yeats have viewed such passages with approval?

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